Harnessing the Power of the Tongue
For the Glory of God
Key Verses: Proverbs 18:21, Psalm 141:3, Psalm 19:14
Lesson #4 ~ Complaining
Note: This is part of a series that I taught at my church. I wanted to present the message of salvation in at least one of these lessons. We cannot control our tongues if we have not been born again. Because the sin of complaining led to the serpent in the wilderness, which leads to Christ, I put the message of salvation in this lesson.
Complaining, what is it? Note: Here I simply read the definition of complaining from the dictionary. This led to some honest discussion which most admitted that they complain on a daily basis.
How can we handle ourselves when we are so inclined to complain?
I. Our Conduct
A. Our testimony to the world ~ Philippians 2:14-16. Our testimony before this crooked world is dependent upon not complaining. If we complain, our lights will not shine. If we complain, we will not be holding forth the word of life. If we complain, our testimony will be in vain.
B. Our ministry in the body of Christ ~ I Peter 4:8-11. The Greek word for hospitality is philo-xenos, literally, a lover of aliens, or generous to guests. Have hospitality, but not grumbling, whenever you use your spiritual gifts. Your spiritual gifts are designed to minister to other believers in the body of Christ. Don’t complain while using them.
C. Patience instead of grumbling ~ James 5:7-11. There are two paths laid out in this passage. The first path includes patience, establishing our hearts, and speaking in the name of the Lord. The second path includes impatience, grumbling, and condemnation. One of the main reasons for complaining is impatience. Suffering affliction patiently is commended, therefore we have the example of Job. See James 1:3-4 and II Peter 1:5-8 to see patience as a sign of spiritual maturity.
D. Rejoice instead of complaining ~ I Thessalonians 5:16, Philippians 4:4. They are opposites. You cannot do both.
II. Examples of Complainers
Note: The majority of the people in the class are women. I told them up front that it is not me calling out women as complainers, but scripture. All the women in the class took these scriptures seriously and admitted that this is a weakness that they have.
A. Women ~ Proverbs 19:13, 21:9, 21:19, 25:24, 27:15-16. Do women know how they come across when they complain? They make it so that their husbands do not want to come home. The husband would rather go sit on the roof, or in some deserted place than come home to a complaining wife. It doesn’t matter how big (luxurious) the house is; if the woman of the house is contentious, it will seem cramped. One complaining woman can turn the whole house negative.
B. Drinkers ~ Proverbs 23:29-35. Some people think that alcohol will take away your complaints. This is not true. The alcohol will only cause you to complain more. The roots of your complaints will still be there. It will cause you to babble more about the things that irritate you. At the end you will utter perverse things.
C. Loud-Mouths ~ Jude 16. Here the passage gives two words, murmurers and complainers, showing them to be basically the same thing. In Philippians 2:14-16 and I Peter 4:8-11, the word used was murmuring (don’t do it). Here it is shown to be equal with complaining. Complainers are also shown to be loud-mouthed, and they show favoritism to gain advantage. (Remember what we saw last week about flattery being a lie?) If you sin with your mouth in one way, you are bound to have more weaknesses than just one with that same tongue. They will receive God’s judgment.
III. The Children of Israel as a Nation of Complainers
A. Admonished by Paul ~ I Corinthians 10:9-11. Paul points out several things in this passage for us to avoid. One of them is complaining. He further states that these things were written down for examples, for our instruction. Do not murmur (complain).
B. Admonished by David ~ Psalm 106:24-27. As David rehearses the history of the children of Israel to them over and over again, notice how he typifies the complaining. It was happening inside of their tents. Not every sin was out in the open. Some of it was inside the privacy of their tents, but God heard. Notice also how complaining is contrasted with listening to God. If you are complaining, you are drowning out the voice of God in your life.
C. Taberah ~ Numbers 11:1-3. What is disconcerting in this passage is that immediately after this episode, the people resume their complaining regarding what God was serving them for food. They complain. God burns them. They cry out to Moses. Moses cries out to God. God stops the fire. Then they complain about not having the types of food that they ate in Egypt.
D. The Brass Serpent ~ Numbers 21:4-9. Note: I tried to link sins of the tongue to sins of the heart. It seems that complaining with the tongue is linked to impatience in the heart. Notice how impatience prompts the complaining. This is shortly after a miraculous victory against King Arad. Yet they grew impatient. As a result of the complaining, God sent the fiery serpents. After many died, they finally repent, but God doesn’t take away the serpents. Instead, He makes a way of salvation if they will believe Him enough to look on the brass serpent on the pole.
IV. The Way of Salvation ~ John 3:9-21.
A. Jesus is the heavenly witness. When He speaks of being born again to Nicodemus, His authority to say so is that of someone Who has come down from heaven.
B. Jesus is (or should be) the focal point of all faith. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, and Israelites focused on that for their healing, even so must Jesus be lifted up so that all may focus on Him. Whoever believes in the Son of Man will have eternal life.
C. Jesus is a gift from God to the world, given out of love for the world. God does not want anyone to perish, but for all to have everlasting life.
D. The mission of Jesus is not one of condemnation, but one of salvation. Even at His second coming He will save the world, even if it means a new heavens and new earth.
E. The entire world, including us, stands under condemnation. Without Jesus, we face condemnation. With Christ, we experience salvation.
F. The light that God sends into the world comes to each person in some way. They either respond favorably to the light, even if it means being exposed as sinful, or they turn away from the light because they love what they do more than they love God. This doesn’t necessarily mean each person is explained the way of salvation, but rather some amount of God’s light enters every person’s life whereby they can either believe or disbelieve.
G. We stand as complainers under condemnation. Will we believe? You’ve been bit by the serpent. His venom is under your tongue. You will die if you do not receive a cure. Will you believe? You must look to Jesus and not yourself. If you have the belief that your tongue is not that bad, then you are looking to yourself for salvation. Your complaining tongue is doomed.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman