Grumbling, Griping, and Grousing

Grumbling, Griping, and Grousing

Essay #2, James 5:9: “Don’t grumble against each other”

   I love to join in the Sunday school kids singing with the youth praise team at Bible School.  One of my favorite of the kid’s songs is “God Is Not Finished With Me.”  I really am not what I am going to be, because God is not finished with me.   I am very excited about where I am going, as being molded and directed by God these days.  I spend part of my devotion time in reading great books by men and women that can teach me a lot. I plan projects well in to the next decade. I have 55 years of sermons in my library, and write each Sunday’s message new each week. All this is because I am convinced that I am being molded each day to be more what God wants of me, and that I know more of what God wants me to tell you each day.  I have that same feeling about each of the people with whom I deal everyday, each of those on my daily prayer list, and those that have wandered into my life for the first time recently.  God is not finished with them yet, and my job is to be a molder in their life, not a wrecking crew. 

    Now, let me be very honest with you; not everyone that wanders into Agape likes what we do nor wants to stay for a development program. Remember Paul’s admonition to the Philippians, “Continue to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (2:12).  Now what Paul means here is workout as in a gym. Exercise your salvation and make your faith strong.   There are many folks that come among us that have no desire to do any spiritual exercise, and complain about what we do; some find it all too demanding, and leave grousing about such a demanding minister.  We love such people and let them go without trying to correct their ideas. Chuck Colson in his book, The Faith, explained it this way. 

   “Christianity is, decidedly, an other-directed religion, as the Danish  philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, often wrote.  By the very character of what we believe in our orthodox faith, we don’t want to force believing down a person’s throat; rather, we’re perfectly willing to lay our own lives down for others…. as Christ did for us.”

   “Christianity does not seek to impose; it proposes.  The Gospel is the great proposal: Come to the wedding feast one and all…black, white, brown, yellow, rich, poor, from the east and from the west,  Muslim ,Jew, Christian—we are all welcome, and it’s never too late.  God turns no one away, not one.  Through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Father brings us into His Kingdom.  This is the promise He holds out to individuals and nations alike, a Kingdom not of eating and drinking or marching armies and clashing swords, but a kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy forever in the Holy Spirit.”

   Those that accept such an invitation will find themselves in an emergency room of a thousand ideas created by the way people were brought up. There will be a hodgepodge of creeds, sins, errors, attitudes, and presuppositions that have anyone, sometimes, and all, at one time or another, at odds. We call this the church.      

   Many will not accept the invitation of the gospel

 and walk away. That is their choice, many accept and stay, and we accept them as they are and will gently lead them to Jesus and Biblical truth.  Along the way, these people will be obnoxious, loud, wrong thinking, demonstrators of bad habits, fowl mouthed, they will steal from the church, lie each time they get a chance; after all, their mentor for years has been Satan who is the father of liars: as Paul wrote, “And such were you in times past.” 

   That is the beginning problem of getting along and accepting each other without grumbling, griping and grousing; then comes the real problem.  Those that start to get well, and they are moved out of ER into intermediate care, and they look back down the hall at ER and begin to gripe about how obnoxious those folks down the hall are. 

   I remember several years ago during the time that I was recouping from hospital time and was just getting my strength back; we took a couple into our home to help them get on their feet.  There was a work ethic, alcohol and drug problems, and we helped them get up and going.  Later, they quit the church because of another addict that I was helping that did not get his way one night, and told them lies about me.  They chose to believe the worst, and left grumbling, griping and grousing about how bad we were at the church, and how so many others had problems that I overlooked and “approved” of.  Sinners that begin the long process of getting well (not getting saved), have a real problem in accepting that others are climbing that steep and rocky mountain themselves, and often slip and fall backward.   Everyone becomes a critic of the other climbers.  It is not hard to fault a nearly blind and deaf man that gets loud because he can’t judge his volume.  It is not hard to judge young adults that spent 95% of their life so far without any real parental instruction, and at times are slow learners, or bull-headed about what they don’t know.  It is easy to fault kids reared by a druggy dad as self-centered and spoiled.  It is easy to fault kids whose parents don’t come to church with them for forgetting it is Sunday Morning, or for not having a ride when the rest of the family sleeps in on Sunday. 

   I do not know who coined the phrase, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked in his moccasins for a few miles,” but I know that it is usually good advice. 

   I know that I get so angry at some of you that I could scream to the whole world, “How come this woman, this man, is so stupid, and hard-headed? I am surrounded by stupid people!”  Then I calm down, and realize that you did not have the benefit of being reared by folks that were more concerned with being teaching parents, than being friends, that made you latterly run home at lunch to learn your math tables, not just overlook your bad grades. Folks that was more concerned with you being right than you being popular; you being honest, rather than your cosmetic appearance. James is directing all of us to be patient, and not to grumble against your brother and sister. 

   We are a mulligan stew of a congregation; as all congregations are supposed to be, we need to learn to be patient with each other.  Knowing that we do not all learn at the same speed.  We need to help others learn to do well.  When we complain about others being late, and we come in just at the bell, maybe the only difference in ours and their arrival time was one red light.  Maybe that is true about all their problems, maybe it was just “one extra red light.”