Scripture is clear that Christians serve a God who is uniquely all-sufficient to meet our every need (Ephesians 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3-4; 2 Corinthians 12:9).
By definition, calling anything sufficient is to acknowledge it is inherently adequate to satisfy a particular need. Some things in this life are sufficient for us in certain moments and situations. But nothing in this fallen world is truly all-sufficient—nothing can completely and permanently satisfy our physical and emotional needs.
Often in this life, our needs—or, more accurately, the wants that we convince ourselves are needs—are not met, or at least they aren’t met to our satisfaction. It is in such instances that we are quick to lose sight of the all-sufficient God we profess to love and trust. And that’s when we begin to complain.
If we’re honest, we have to admit that we’re all prone to complaining. From our earliest childhood, we develop a propensity to fulminate over our unmet wants and needs. Today even grown adults whine in hopes that somehow, someone—perhaps even God—will fulfill their quests for personal happiness and contentment, regardless of how fleeting it may be.
Survey the landscape of society in general—and, sadly, the evangelical church in particular—and it’s as if everyone has something about which they can complain. This tidal wave of dissatisfaction is particularly evident in social media, where the ubiquitous expressions of one’s personal displeasure are offered indiscriminately. From marital discord and misery to sociopolitical anxiety to financial frustrations, no one appears to be content.
God’s people must not be so cavalier with their complaints. We need to see such incessant, dissatisfied bleating the way heaven does—as a sin against a sovereign and omniscient God who knows and faithfully provides what is best for His elect (Psalm 84:11).
In his messages “Stop Complaining, Part 1” and “Stop Complaining, Part 2” (from his series from Philippians called The Secret to Contentment), John MacArthur defines complaining as a “wicked and proud sin” that is “a symptom of a deep-seated spiritual problem: failure to trust God and failure to submit to His providential will.” John confronts us with one of the more profound rhetorical questions to be found in all of Scripture: “Why should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view of his sins?” (Lamentations 3:39).
We tend to take the opposite perspective and attempt to downplay the sinfulness of our complaining, seeing it as less severe than murder, adultery, or lying. And we foolishly presume the Lord will likewise overlook or ignore it. But God takes complaining very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that in Numbers 11:1, He killed some of the Israelites who “complain[ed] of adversity in the hearing of the Lord.”
As John MacArthur asserts in these messages, “Few sins are uglier to God than the sin of complaining.”
Are you a complainer? Do you harbor an attitude of discontentment? Are you dissatisfied with the life situation in which a sovereign God has placed you? Or perhaps the better question is this: Do you believe that the God in whom you have entrusted your destiny in the next life is sufficient and adequate to meet your needs in this life—as He promised He would (Philippians 4:19)?
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