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How Much Do We Murmur?

How much do we murmur?

     It is likely that many folks are not completely aware of the difference between complaining and murmuring. While these are related there does seem to be differences in the two. These differences are important to know and understand. But, before any differences can be explained the terms need defining.    Complain = to express grief, pain or discomfort.   Murmur = a half-suppressed or muttered complaint; or a low indistinct but often continuous sound. The word “complain” and its various forms are only found in the O.T. Scriptures, while the word “murmur” is found in both the O.T. and N.T Scriptures. Also, in the whole Bible we don’t read admonitions against complaining, but we are taught against murmuring. This shows that there is a difference in these words.  In the Hebrew language of the O.T. the word “complaint” indicates a petition or a prayer.

   In Psalms 102:1-2 we read inspired Words that show that a complaint can be clearly understood by the one hearing the complaint.   A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD. Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.  Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.  Then in Psalms 142:1-2 we have another prayer offered to God by David as he was in hiding from those who were persecuting him.   I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.  Of course God is all knowing and is fully aware of our situations, needs and complaints. But, murmuring is always shown in a negative light in the Scriptures.  

     Why do we not find an example of murmuring that is acceptable to God? It is because murmuring is a sin.   In Matthew chapter 18, the Lord Himself offered the acceptable formula for dealing with issues between brethren. Notice: 1) the solution is progressive in nature, and 2) does not allow for murmuring.  Jesus says in Matthew 18:15-17 that we should go to, and tell the issue to the one with whom we have issue. This instruction was given directly by Jesus to His own disciples.   Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.  To take this “complaint” to another would be gossip, and to just mutter and gripe sullenly solves nothing, but just makes the “murmurer” more miserable, and makes the folks around them miserable as well.  

    Another reason murmuring is a sin is that when one participates in it, others are likely to be drawn away also.   God’s people of the O.T. also were drawn away when murmuring was going on. The Words given to Isaiah in Isaiah 29:24 show that those who murmur are those who have not learned, or have forgotten doctrine.   They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.  Perhaps if we stay in the doctrine of Christ, the N.T. Word of God, we as Christians are less likely to murmur.

   Jesus had spent most of the time of His earthly ministry teaching His disciples, twelve of which would become His apostles.   John 6:61 tells us even some of the Lord’s disciples in His day murmured. He then asked if the “hard” sayings He brought to them “offended” them.    When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?  They and we have nothing for which to be offended as Christ came, suffered, and died so we can have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) What is there to murmur about?   Jesus gave His apostles all explanations needed as He spoke in parables as Mark 4:11 teaches. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:   They would also later be guided into all truth by the promised “Comforter” when He was sent to them. (John 16:13)     But He has also given us all we need per 2Peter 1:3. Have we any reason to murmur?     According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:    Let us all serve God faithfully, patiently, and lovingly, and not fall into the sin of “murmuring”, nor afflict others with it.   We will all be a lot happier as we serve God in this life.

                                                                                      Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ


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