No-one likes a whinger. Is there a worse sound in your house than a whining voice? Grumblers are the worst. Aussies can't stand them, despite the fact that we are world-class at it. But you know who else doesn't like a whinger? God. I mean, yes he still loves them, he loves everyone. But if there is anything in the Bible that he comes down hard on his people for, it is whinging. And recognising this is super helpful for understanding what's going on in our kids' hearts. Knowing what's going on in there is an impossibly hard thing to do, but oh so important. The grumbly-grateful contrast provides a great way in though. Have a think about this with me...
God is not a fan of grumblers
Remember that time that God saved the Israelites in an incredible way, just to have them turn around and grumble? Which one you ask? Good question, because there are so many of them! The word "grumble" rocks up about 18 times in Exodus and Numbers. God did the most extraordinary things in saving his people from the hard Egyptian slave drivers, and yet they are like, 'why can't we be back in Egypt, like the good ol days'? Somehow God is incredibly gracious with them through all of this. I'd wipe them out if it was me (praise God that he doesn't let me be God!). But he doesn't. Not the first time at least. Or the second. Or the third. But eventually their grumbling got the better of them. They grumbled about going into the promised land, so God left them in the desert for 40 years. That was a death sentence. And God makes it clear that it is directly because of their grumbling.
"In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me".
It is clear that God is not a fan of his people grumbling. It is enough to condemn them to 40 years in the wilderness, and the death of all the people (minus Joshua and Caleb). The New Testament doubles down on this condemnation of the Israelites' grumbling.
And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. 1 Corinthians 10:10
What's so bad about grumbling?
What's the big deal? Why would the incredibly gracious God blast people for grumbling? I mean I get idolatry. Murder makes sense. Injustice - yep. But grumbling? What's the issue? Well, this is where we get some interesting insight into our hearts. You see, grumbling reveals something very dark going on in the heart. It reveals the core sin. The mother of all sins. Distrust of God. This is sometimes (usually) referred to as pride. It is the sin of the garden. That devastating tale tells us of our forebears (and all of us along with them) failing to trust in God's goodness, and choosing to define good and evil for ourselves thankyou very much. That's what went wrong for the Israelites in the wilderness. They failed to trust in God's goodness in his command to go through the desert, and then again when he told them to take down the giant Canaanites. Instead they grumbled, thinking they knew what was best. The Bible defines this as the great rebellion (Heb 3:15). They thought they knew better than God, and that came out as grumbling. Grumbling is rebellion. It reveals a heart that wants the throne for itself. And this is an incredibly dangerous heart.
The Bible's answer
We know that we all have grumbling in our hearts. As parents we might be better at hiding our whinging tone than our kids are, but the same heart is still there. So what does the Bible say? How do we fight a grumbling heart? With gratefulness. Thankfulness. Contentedness in God and his goodness. The Bible is filled to the brim with calls to be grateful to God. Here are a couple of examples:
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Give thanks to the LORD for he is good. His love endures forever.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
When we are grateful to God, it comes out of a heart that trusts in his goodness. We are satisfied in him and we trust in him to provide. He loves providing for us, and letting him do that is how we worship him. If grumbling reveals a heart that isn't trusting God, gratefulness reveals the opposite. It shows that our heart is drawn to him in trust. That is why if we see grumbling or gratefulness in our kids, it is an open window into our kids' hearts.
What to do with our kids?
Chatting to your kids about grumbling and gratefulness is actually pretty easy to do. Remembering to do it is the tricky part. But pretty much any way that they respond to anything in life will reveal grumbling or gratefulness in their heart. Talking about having a grumbling or grateful heart in any situation will be incredibly beneficial for your kids - no matter what age they. And added bonus - they both start with G. That'll make it heaps easier to remember! Are they whinging that they don't get to say grace this time? Saying grace from a grumbling heart isn't what honours God. This provides an opportunity to talk about what we have to be thankful for. God desires and deserves a grateful heart, not a grumbly heart. Which heart do you want to have? Are they whinging because you said no to buying them something at the shops? Sounds like grumbling to me. What has God given us? So many things. We don't need to grumble. Let's give him thanks for good things that he's given us. He has given us so much more than just that toy. He has given us Jesus. And what's more - he will put everything right one day, so we don't need to grumble. A grateful heart (even when they are disappointed) will honour God and help them deal with the situation more calmly. (Super saiyan level up bonus: this attitude will arm them to deal with great injustice that will inevitably come upon them in the future). Abel is grateful; Cain is grumbly. David is grateful; Saul is grumbly. Bartimaeus is grateful; the Pharisees are grumbly. Jesus is grateful; Satan, the world, we are grumbly. Teach your kids the difference between grumbling and gratefulness. You can do it in any situation in the day. You can see it at the root of every issue in any Bible story. And you can see perfect gratefulness in Jesus - covering our grumbly hearts if we ask him to! Why not have a crack at it today? We honestly believe that there isn't a story in the Bible or a situation in your day that can't be explained using this grumbly/grateful idea. If you have any that you reckon don't fit, let us know in the comments. We'd love to know if there is something that doesn't fit, or if we can help you see the link!