The Power Of Complaining
February 25, 2019
The Bible teaches that everything reproduces of its own kind. This is also true of attitudes. When the Bible shows that people have the joy of the Lord, it is usually infectious so that others have the joy of the Lord too. Likewise, when the Bible shows that there are some who are selfish, that attitude breeds more selfishness. The Bible shows that one of the most contagious attitudes is pessimism, discontentment, and complaining. These things are some of the easiest tempers to spread, and are also an offense to God. God withheld an entire generation of Israelites from entering the Promised Land because their “complaints” were so common, reflective of their unbelief and discontentment in God’s purposes and promises. When one person introduces complaining to a conversation, it is easy to see complaints take over the conversation and snowball into a conversation that becomes poisonous. This is why it is important to recognize when we get caught up in these issues. The circumstances of life can easily bring about discontentment, often with God, so that after stating one simple opinion, we can quickly venture into words that are offensive to God.
The testimony of Job shows how easy this is. In Job 10:1-7 the Bible shows that Job sought the opportunity to really speak his mind about his pain. Apparently, up to that point, he had restrained his true opinions about his suffering. Job had said a lot already, and while his suffering was great, that suffering was causing him to speak with a lot of human emotion rather than Godly wisdom. He had already been treading the thin line of blasphemy when trying to explain his innocence in regard to the accusations of hypocrisy his friends had made. Still, Job, caught up in the wind of his own emotion, continued to speak and ventured deeper into the realms of complaining. He was no longer complaining about his suffering. Job was complaining about God. While trying to understand why God was doing what He was doing, Job questioned God in ways that were very irreverent. Job did not curse God like the devil intended, but Job wasn’t speaking well of God either. This is not good, but this is what our suffering tends to cause us to do.
In Job 10:1-7 Job flat out said that he was going to speak more openly and without restraint about his grief. Here, it is important to understand that, while Job sought to prove his point to his friends, it wasn’t worth it considering the course he took to prove himself right. While trying to prove himself right to his friends, he ended up proving himself wrong to God. There is never really a time when we as flawed people should speak without restraint, especially concerning our complaints. The Bible teaches that the tongue is like a poisonous snake and spits fire as set by hell itself. This is how our mouths are naturally. If we allow our mouths to go without restraint, this is what we can expect to come out – poison and hellfire! Job told his friends how he would address God if he had the chance. Though Job knew and admitted that God is transcendent and holy, Job felt that he had the right to speak his mind as he was. Job felt that his words and opinions were falling short of reaching God because he did not have a mediator to stand between him and God to enable his words to effect in God’s ears. Yet, Job figured the audience of his friends would suffice. This is all wrong, and Job was allowing his emotions get the best of him. Job was not seeking the Lord and the fruit of His Spirit to properly deal with these issues, and his irreverent complaining and questioning was the result.
Job questioned the goodness of God. He wondered how God could be good, but yet allow such suffering. This is a common opinion for those who suffer or witness suffer. Still, the commonality of this opinion doesn’t make it right. God is good regardless of what we think of His work! With such limitations in our perspective and understanding, who do we think we are to question the works and purposes of God? Can we see the conclusion of God’s work to know what each step of His work will produce? Are we wiser than God to know that pain is senseless and useless? Job wondered why it seemed good to God to oppress him. This remark amplifies the ignorance of the human heart and reason. God is not an oppressor. God was not the cause of Job’s suffering. It is true that God gave Job over to Satan, but if Satan were not a destroyer then Job would not have an adversary causing pain. The devil was Job’s enemy, not God. Additionally, God doesn’t take pleasure in the suffering of any person, especially His own. In Job’s mind, suffering was bad and reflective of someone that is despised by God. Who taught this to Job? Did God ever say that pain in our lives shows that we’re His enemies? Where in the Bible does it say that suffering is a sign that God is against us? Where has God proclaimed that God considers it good when His people are in turmoil? Job might have felt that his venting was helpful to his friends to understand his perspective, and a relief to his own soul, but his words were an offense to God!
Job also asked why Go would despise the work of His own hands. Here, Job was referring to himself as the work of God’s hands. Job admitted that he was the creation of God. Job knew that God has purpose for His creation. Yet Job could not connect God’s purpose to his issues. Was God’s purpose to destroy that which He created? Did God just make Job so that he could suffer later? Again, while it seems like these are common questions, it is important to remember who God is. If God is indeed the Creator, that makes us the clay. Who is the clay to question the work and purpose of the Creator? Does the clay ever say, “Why have you made me this way?” As people, we have no right to question God’s purposes for creating us. Even if He had created Job just to destroy him, God is the Creator and has the right to do that! The truth is though, that Job was wrong again. God did not despise Job. Job was God’s creation, but Job’s suffering was no evidence that God despised him. When has God ever said that the suffering of His people is an indication that He despises those people? When has God ever said that, when we suffer in life, it’s because He hates us and created us just to see us in pain? Though this is what people often think in times of difficulty, the Bible NEVER teaches this about God.
Lastly, Job questioned God’s wisdom and understanding. He asked himself if it were possible that God were actually flawed, having eyes like a human with limited perspective. This is highly offensive against God! While Job ultimately knew that God is supreme in wisdom, knowledge, ability, power, and control, his emotional outburst and complaining kept him from selecting better words to state his cause. So, the words that actually came out of his mouth were awful! Job’s words made it sound like he thought God was wrong. Job’s friends, having limited human perspective, assumed Job was guilty of something that he wasn’t. Since Job continued to suffer, to Job it seemed like God had this same flaw in perspective. In other words, Job felt himself so innocent, that he deemed himself unworthy of this sort of suffering. He had taken the role of judge to judge himself. Seeing that he was not a hypocrite in the manner that his friends accused, Job felt that he should be dismissed from his suffering. Who are we to make such declarations? If as believers in God’s holiness and glory, we believe that we fall short of His glory and deserve condemnation for it, how can we criticize God when far lesser suffering comes into our lives as if we don’t deserve it? Doesn’t our natural depravity qualify us for suffering of any kind? It is the greatest gift of all to receive the grace of God, which removes us from the suffering we REALLY deserve – eternal hellfire. How can we admit to deserving hellfire, but try to justify ourselves against lesser suffering? This doesn’t make sense, but this is what the flaws of human emotions breed when we speak without restraint.
Jesus taught that the mouth speaks out of the abundance of the heart. Therefore, the things that Job was saying were emotions and attitudes that existed in his heart long before his suffering. It is impossible to fire a gun rapidly unless the bullets are already loaded. Job was able to fire off all of these complaints because he had been allowing them to fester in his heart until this point where they spewed out like destructive volcanic ash. If Job was innocent, his silence about the matter would have proved a better point. When Jesus was charged with crimes that He never committed, He never sought the opportunity to defend Himself. He didn’t have to. He knew He was innocent before the Father, and that in it of itself was sufficient. Job on the other hand became personally offended at the accusations of his friends, and let the opinions of his friends transcend his relationship with God. This caused Job to speak things that even he knew weren’t true. Job understood that God knew he wasn’t wicked. Yet, the pain of his flesh was bringing out words of the flesh. Job had even called his friends wicked in the process of his venting, now personally offending them. Though they were wrong in their assessment, they weren’t wicked warranting judgment from God.
This is the type of poison that can come from an unrestrained mouth. This is what happens when we decide we want to allow the power of complaining to run free without the restraint of the Spirit. This is what happens when we allow the pain of our circumstances to cloud our perspective on who God is; allowing the matters of this life to transcend the hope of eternal life. Though Job never cursed God, his good witness was certainly compromised. This is not something that a child of God should be okay with. As Job should not have allowed his suffering to cause forgetfulness about who God is, neither should we.