Grumbling has become a way of life for many of us. It’s almost expected. How else are you to entertain your co-workers when you get to the office? Besides, it’s good for you isn’t it? Get it all out, and you’ll feel better.
I don’t know about you, but when James says “be patient” I think “OK, fair enough.” When he says “don’t grumble,” though, I bristle a little. I like to grumble. What else should I do when I’m under pressure, or things aren’t going my way?
Grumbling is the flip side of patience, and looking at grumbling for what it is helps us to better see the value of patience.
The children of Israel, when they were wandering in the desert, were first-class grumblers. Every time they were hungry or thirsty or couldn’t see God for a minute, they started to grumble. They grumbled against Moses, they grumbled against Aaron, they grumbled against God. It was everybody’s fault but their own. They were severely judged for grumbling. Why? All that grumbling meant that they had stopped trusting God. They doubted His love. Grumbling is criticizing, blaming others, passing judgment.
Grumbling is dangerous to our health. It leads to judgment. “And look!” James says. “The judge is standing at the door!”(vs. 9)
Being patient in trials may be a choice, but most of us need help. Here are some things to remember and try:
1. Both patience and fortitude are gifts of the Holy Spirit. God gives them to us. We have to unwrap them, and use them – but we don’t have to do it on our own power. If we work at it, the Holy Spirit will help.
2. Don’t forget that God is in control! Just like he’s in control of the cycles of nature, he’s in control of our lives, of all history, and he’s bringing it all to an expected end.
3. Hang on to that eternal perspective, to that certain hope that Christ is coming again to judge and to save. In the midst of trials and tribulations and temptations: live in light of the Lord’s coming!
4. The more you grumble, the less patient you’ll be. When you’re tempted to grumble, try saying something positive instead.
5. Practice makes perfect. And being consistently patient in small matters will help you be patient in big ones. Over time, you will build a lifestyle of patience. “And let patience have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (1:4).
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I hope you’ve enjoyed these nuggets from James! If you have, I’d love to hear from you – either in the comments section here, or by email: sarah@ComeIntotheWord.com.
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Read my other posts on James here:
- “Count it all joy”
- “Mirror, mirror” (or, what it means to be a doer) – on the Bible Study for Catholics blog
- When the Rubber Meets the Road
- Show No Partiality
Study James: Pearls of Wise Living in your home group or parish