Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Thanksgiving or complaining -- these words express two contrasting attitudes found in God’s children in regard to His dealings with them. The soul that gives thanks can find comfort in everything; the soul that complains can find comfort in nothing.

“Thanksgiving or Complaining!”

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thanksgiving or complaining -- these words express two contrasting attitudes found in God’s children in regard to His dealings with them. The soul that gives thanks can find comfort in everything; the soul that complains can find comfort in nothing. On the highway leading into Yankton, South Dakota reads: “Yankton, S.D. The Home of 30,000 friendly people and a few sore-heads.” The truth is all of us at times become sore-heads. Now, we may know it by different terms -- such as griping, grumbling, whining, or belly-aching. In the King James the common term used was “murmuring.” Regardless of the word we use to describe it, complaining always has the same symptoms. The dictionary defines it as “an expression of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, or discontent.” Complaining is the outward expression of discontent from within.

A certain man, well-known for his constant complaining, inherited a large sum of money. When he got it, he complained about how it was not as much as he thought it should be. He bought a farm and asked his wife what she thought he should name it. She quickly answered, "Why don’t you call it ‘Belly Acres’?" Now, this message probably won’t apply to most of you this morning. I’m sure that none of you have a problem with complaining, but you probably know someone who needs to hear this. Complaining seems to have become the great American past time. We live in a very complaining society. People gripe about everything.

In my opinion, few sins are as ugly to God as the sin of complaining. There seems to be very little thankfulness or gratitude today among God’s people but a whole lot of complaining. Complaining is part of our culture, but it sure isn’t anything new. Let me ask you something, when you were a child, did you ever sit down at the dinner table and say, “We having that again?” (Story of Potato Soup) Human nature hasn’t changed! Let me explain. Centuries ago, the Jewish nation was being fed by God from heaven! Every morning for nearly 40 years, God sent little wafers of manna down to the camp of Israel. The Bible calls it angels’ food – Psa. 78:25! But there came a day when the people complained, “We’re tired of this manna, same old thing every day!” Their experience points out an important truth, and that is, the danger of getting used to our blessings!

God was taking care of the children of Israel! He had delivered them from the bondage of Egypt! He had taken them through the Red Sea, and had defeated their enemies for them! They never had to worry about where to travel because God’s presence went before them! God protected them from danger and God provided them food and water day by day! Now you would think that the people would be thrilled with what God was doing for them, right? But they weren’t. They spent much of their time complaining! They complained about their godly leader, Moses! They complained about the way God led them. They complained about the way God fed them! There was a time when Moses was a great man in their eyes, but not anymore! There was a time when the pillar of fire that led them was an awesome sight, but not anymore! There was a time when they could hardly wait for the morning to come so they could go out and gather the heavenly manna, but not anymore!

Do you know what happened to these people? The same thing that can happen to you and me! They had gotten used to their blessings! The wonder was gone. What was once a daily miracle of God’s love became a routine occurrence! “We’re tired of this manna!” Can you imagine being tired of food that came directly from heaven? Can you imagine getting used to sharing in a daily miracle? Well, it happened to them, and it’s happening to people today. We’ve gotten used to God’s blessings!

Think of the blessings of our nation! Not everything is good about our country, but not everything is bad either! We enjoy freedom here, yet we’ve gotten used to it and take it for granted! Our material wealth is the greatest of any nation on earth. Yet, we complain because we don’t have more! While we Americans are fretting over diets and trying to lose excess weight, many people in the world are trying to find enough food to keep them alive another day!

Take this matter of government. With all its faults and failures, our republican way of life is still the best way! Yet, how many of us really participate in our responsibilities of government? Many Christians don’t even bother to register to vote! If God withdrew from us the national blessings that we enjoy, I’m sure every one of us would cry out and beg God for freedom again! It’s too bad that sometimes we have to lose something to appreciate it! Don’t get used to the blessings we enjoy as a free nation! Cherish these God given privileges and use them wisely! Whenever we start taking something or someone for granted, we start complaining! For some reason, many of us actually enjoy complaining! Yet, the Bible warns us in Phil. 2:14 “Do all things without murmuring and disputing.”

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