The Sin of Complaining

“And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes, and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindle, and the fire of the LORD burned among them and consumed some outlying parts of the camp.” – Numbers 11:1

                We are all guilty of complaining at some point in our lives. It begins at the very early stages of our lives as infants and toddlers when we begin complaining about the snacks and toys that we wanted but didn’t get. Unfortunately, it continues in our lives as adults! We can often complain about how the current politics are affecting our daily lives, our spouses not putting the dishes away, our children’s misbehavior, or even the aches and pains that can often make our lives more difficult than we feel it should be.

                In the case of the Israelites, they were complaining about their “misfortunes”, which later is revealed to be their desire for more food (they have been eating manna everyday for every meal since being freed from Egypt). Aside from complaining about God freeing them from SLAVERY to Egypt, another major issue is that they had the audacity to claim that life was better in Egypt than in the wilderness with God! One of my favorite parts about this story in Numbers 11 is when God promises to give them so much quail to eat for an entire month that it will be “coming out of their nostrils” (which I want to say that this is the origin of the famous quote used today).

                In the end, the people get exactly what they want (kind of). Their complaint was that life was essentially better before God saved them, and were seeking meat to fill their stomachs, instead of the eternal security that only God could provide them. As a result, they got the meat they craved, but it came at the cost of their very lives. God’s judgment for the generation that was complaining was that they would all die before the nation of Israel ever stepped foot in the land that God promised them. God refused to let anyone who believed that life was better as a slave to enter His promised land.

                The people’s craving for meat revealed a deeper issue in their hearts: they didn’t crave a relationship with God.

Proverbs 17:1 is true in this case when it says, “Better is a dry morsel with quiet than a house full of feasting with strife.”

                The Israelites did not value the peaceful relationship they could have had with God, even if it meant eating only manna for forty years (the dry morsel in Proverbs 17:1). Instead, they craved the feasting of meat (likened to various foods they had as slaves in Egypt) at the cost of having strife with a holy God.

                Likewise, Romans 6:20-23 says,
“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

                As sinners saved by God’s grace, we can never afford to forget that life is always better when in a reconciled relationship with God. When we complain about the “dry morsels” of this life, I believe it is helpful to have the perspective that no matter how much we have in this life, it will always be like dry morsels compared to the riches in the kingdom of heaven that we will all inherit as sons and daughters of the King! When contemplating what our complaints are about, we will likely be able to see the deeper longing of those complaints. Do our complaints reveal a desire to attain perishable riches independent from having a personal relationship with God? Or do our complaints fall in line with a true desire to want to be in a closer relationship with God?

Our life is never better off without God!

If you have not already done so, give up the desire to “feast” in this life as if there is nothing beyond that, and experience the joy of what dry morsels can bring when you are at peace with the God who created you and loves you. Put your faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and salvation of your soul, and you will feast in heaven for eternity!

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