Everyday and everywhere we are tempted. Temptation to give in to sexual immorality, to engage in an unhealthy lifestyle, to nurture rage or resentment, to participate in malicious gossip, to set up idols for ourselves that minimize God’s standing; all of these, and many more, we are faced with on a consistent basis. However, there is one temptation that I’ve been largely unaware of in my own life that Paul calls out in 1 Corinthians 10:10 – grumbling.
Warnings are given to us in this passage, to heed the past mistakes in regards to temptation from our forefathers, the Israelites, had given in to. Three examples are listed, “We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did – and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test the Lord, as some of them did – and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did – and were killed by the destroying angel” (1 Corinthians 10:8-10). Abstain from sexual practices outside of God’s set boundaries, check. Refrain from testing God by means of challenging Him, check. To not grumble, though? To not complain, though? To not be content, though? Unintentionally unchecked.
If it’s unclear as to how this could fall under the guise of temptation, verse 13 clarifies it for us, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” It is tempting to put ourselves before Him as we are driven by selfish pride, whether checked or unchecked. We are generally aware of the temptation to sin sexually, and perhaps even aware when we’re tempted to test God with our haughty assumptions. But how aware are we of our failing to abide in Him by the constant complaining amongst others, the perpetual self talk in our minds that mumbles about how discontent we are with life, or the overall dissatisfaction we feel with the path we’re on?
Whether we are complaining incessantly to ourselves, to others, or both, we are grumbling against the Lord (Exodus 16:8). What is it that we don’t have enough of? Food, clothing, shelter, wealth, health, faith, gifts, healing, growth? Peace in the home, downtime to recharge, unresolved relational turmoil, ungodly shame and guilt over past trespasses where repentance has already taken place, foreknowledge of what the future holds? Instead of using the false prosperity gospel phrase, “name it and claim it,”for material or spiritual strides, we would do well to name and claim what it is that we complain of. Whatever that may be, regardless of how deserving we believe we are of it, we sin against God in our grumbling. We end up doubting His providence and slowly sufficate the joy we can have when our sights are set on trusting His ways.
As always, to combat our shortcomings, we can look to Jesus Christ. Not only does He offer us a method to provide a way out so we can stand up under it as described in the Corinthians passage, by modeling His response in utilizing Scripture as He was tempted by the devil in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11), but Christ adds to our portion of resistance by including how prevalent temptation is within the lines of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:13). The realization that grumbling over our circumstances is often unseen, hidden below the surface, and gelled into our mindset. It can be brought forth and dealt with if we’re able to recognize it. Even now as I am confronted with a fresh vision of how often I grumble, I’m already tempted to complain that the battle to resist a habit that I’ve become comfortably numb with is too difficult. One thought at a time.