The Difference Between Lament and Grumbling

The big difference, I believe, between sinful grumbling and sinless lament is simply humility

“What is the difference between the complaining or murmuring we’re not supposed to do, and that includes two texts, Philippians 2, verse 14, and 1st Corinthians 10, verse 10, and lamenting like we see in the Psalms? I’ll tip my cards and say, I think the main difference is pride and humility. Let me tell you how we get there.”

 

In the Bible we see both grumbling and lamenting. It seems that one is permitted by God and one is not. So what is the difference?

Today I want to take on a question I got from somebody who’s watched some of these videos. Sent through a question I thought was quite interesting. It was essentially about the difference between lament and grumbling. So let me read the question. What is the difference between the complaining or murmuring we’re not supposed to do, and that includes two texts, Philippians 2, verse 14, and 1st Corinthians 10, verse 10, and lamenting like we see in the Psalms? I’ll tip my cards and say, I think the main difference is pride and humility. Let me tell you how we get there.

The first text he includes is Philippians chapter 2, 14 to 15. The context of Philippians, Paul himself is suffering, he’s in chains, he’s writing to a church that’s going through a tough time, perhaps persecution, if not, it may be coming soon. And then, in the midst of that kind of outside attack, there’s also some inside stuff going on. There’s these two women who are duking it out and probably having people join sides with them, so there’s this disunity in the church that’s coming from within. The church is being attacked from outside, eroded from within. In that context, he has calls for unity in the letter including this, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.” Seems to me that the grumbling he’s talking about right there is not so much against God, as in lament, but it’s against other people. So I think what he’s warning against there is grumbling, which we might say is people attacking one another behind their backs and disputing, which is attacking one another face to face. Something along those lines. So I don’t think this is quite on point to your question then, I think this text more just shows that there will be disunity within the church and then, of course, we have other passages in scripture, how to deal with that. You deal with disunity, you deal with being sinned against by overlooking an offense or by following the principles of Matthew 18.

So, let’s look to the second text, 1st Corinthians chapter 10, verses 9 to 10, we read, “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.” Now, this is clearly grumbling against God and it shows us this is a serious offense which has had in the past serious consequences. The warning to us is clear, we must not grumble against God. And yet we have these Psalms of lament.

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