Grumbling and complaining are very human characteristics. We tend to do these on a daily basis almost without thinking about it. God gives us strict instructions about these, however, reminding us that grumbling once resulted in the deaths of many (1 Cor 10:10, see Exodus 15 & Numbers 16) and that we are to ‘do everything without grumbling or arguing.’ (Phil 2:14)
Grumbling often arises from selfishness, discontent and ingratitude, and a better way of dealing with situations is to look for the positive and speak positively (see James 3:9-10). It can be very easy to grumble and complain about people and situations – and even to extend this to grumbling against God (the many examples of grumbling in the wilderness are often associated with putting the Lord to the test.) When you find yourself grumbling or complaining, make a conscious decision to stop and to speak positively, to encourage and to bless. Not only does this help others, it puts a smile on our own faces!
Grumbling tends to focus on other people’s faults and failings (and there will always be plenty of those around.) One of the things we need to give up for Lent (and beyond) is our willingness to play the ‘blame game’. This is probably the oldest game in the world (see Gen 3:12-13). It’s great fun, because it absolves us from any blame and puts the fault squarely on someone else’s shoulders. But the blame game and grumbling are ways of avoiding our own responsibilities and culpability and we need to let go of these attitudes in order to embrace encouragement and blessing.