The Sin of Murmuring

by Earl Fly

Korah, Dathan, Abiram, fifty princes of the congregation, and others rebelled and murmured against God's servants Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:1-11). "The earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up ... they, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them, and they perished from among the congregation" (Numbers 16:32-33). "And there came out a fire from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense" (Numbers 16:35). When the Jews murmured that Moses and Aaron were responsible for the deaths, God killed fourteen thousand; seven hundred of them by a plague (Numbers 16:41-49). This is written for our admonition and should cause all murmurers in the church to repent and reform, lest they suffer a "sorer punishment" (Hebrews 10:28-29).

A murmurer can do great harm and irreparable damage in a congregation by creating discontent, discouragement, and apathy among members, by sowing discord among the brethren (which God hates — Proverbs 6:19), by undermining the work of the preacher, teachers, deacons, and the rule of elders. This many times creates a general attitude of dissatisfaction and loss of interest, enthusiasm, and zeal, resulting in decreased attendance, contribution, and impairment of all work in general. The murmurer may then be the first to criticize the lack of growth and may use the preacher or someone else as the scapegoat to bear the blame, not realizing or ignoring the fact that his own sin is responsible.

The murmurer does not truly love God and is not really interested in the welfare and growth of the church, but in his own selfish desires and opinions. He is either woefully ignorant of or willfully disregards God's Word regarding his sin, and is a dangerous threat to the cause of Christ. He can and does destroy or greatly lessen the influence and work of those who happen to be the object of his disgruntled attack. It is difficult to deal with such a situation because oftentimes the murmurer does not have the courage or character to honorably discuss his complaints with the proper ones, but whispers them in secret to others. Christians should not lend receptive ears nor endorsement to murmuring, but exhort the guilty one to cease his sin. Remember, if one will murmur to you, he may murmur about you, because many times he is a pharisaical faultfinder, a chronic complainer with a hypercritical attitude who is usually never satisfied very long with any arrangement.

We earnestly exhort all murmurers everywhere in the name of Christ to repent of this sin, to cease and desist in tearing down the work of God, and to get busy in the kingdom to build it up. Those who truly love God and his church have no desire to be hypercritical faultfinders, wandering about murmuring to all who will listen. If anyone should persist in this sin after proper warnings and efforts to restore him, then scriptural discipline should be brought about to protect the flock of God and its work. The work of our Lord is too important to allow the murmurer to run and ruin the church.

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