Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The sin of grumbling

So having resolved to stop complaining, I confess to regressing in recent days.

Complaining is a sin. Perhaps not a major one like pride or greed but it is probably worse than lust which is what much of our Anglican Communion kerfuffles revolve around. It's born ultimately from two things: a frustrated sense of entitlement, and a lack of faith.

The frustrated sense of entitlement is triggered when reality and expectation start to diverge in a significant manner. It is 'My God My God why have you forsaken me?' Yet we are not promised an easy life, we are in fact promised the opposite: "God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers." Christians have no grounds for a sense of entitlement. It's all grace, it's all gift, and the appropriate response is thanksgiving and the counting of blessings. I resolve to improve, and my penance is to say the General Thanksgiving every morning until my heart is turned.

The lack of faith is even deeper. Faith and doubt are not opposites, faith and fear are opposites, and grumbling and complaining are centred in a fear of not achieving our heart's desires, a lack of trust in God's goodness and provision for us. It is the desire to achieve our own ends, and not surrender to God's intentions for us. It is the Israelites running from the Egyptians and not listening to Moses saying 'The Lord shall fight for you and ye shall hold your peace'. I resolve to improve, and my penance is to sing this hymn each morning until my heart is turned:


Forth in thy Name, O Lord, I go,
my daily labor to pursue;
thee, only thee, resolved to know
in all I think or speak or do.

The task thy wisdom hath assigned,
O let me cheerfully fulfill;
in all my works thy presence find,
and prove thy good and perfect will.

Thee may I set at my right hand,
whose eyes mine inmost substance see,
and labor on at thy command,
and offer all my works to thee.

Give me to bear thy easy yoke,
and every moment watch and pray,
and still to things eternal look,
and hasten to thy glorious day.

For thee delightfully employ
whate'er thy bounteous grace hath given;
and run my course with even joy,
and closely walk with thee to heav'n.

(Wesley. Of course)

2 comments:

  1. A very helpful post. Thanks.

    I did a little thinking about the difference between grumbling and lament a while back. I'd appreciate any thoughts, since you're thinking about this atm.

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  2. Great post, Sam. I couldn't agree more - there is something very non-God-affirming about Christians displaying a sense of entitlement. And much wisdom in immersing yourself in the really rather beautiful General Thanksgiving. Most mornings I also say the Morning Prayer of the Optina Elders, for the same kind of reasons.

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