The “big” sins of idolatry, sexual immorality… and grumbling?!

I briefly commented on Sunday how in Paul’s list of several things for the Corinth church to avoid, it strikes me how grumbling “ranks” right up there with idolatry and sexual immorality.  Having idolatry or especially sexual immorality exposed within a church causes us gasp with eyes shocked wide open.  But grumbling?  Shouldn’t something more mild like grumbling make a B-list of sins, not as severe as A-list sins like idolatry and sexual immorality?

Well, as Kevin Harney writes in his book Seismic Shifts, “Grumbling is a poison in our relationships” (p. 152).  No wonder our God – whose Son prayed that the church may be one – calls grumbling a sin.  Grumbling “grieves the heart of God [as it] breaks the unity of the church and becomes a foothold for Satan to enter and [undermine] the church” (p. 152).

Think about the last several conversations you’ve had today at home, in the car, at work, at school: Could your words in any of those recent conversations be characterized as grumbling?  You may have some repenting to do – both to God and to those who were victims of your grumbling.

You may also want to invest some time in figuring out how more of what you say could heal, strengthen, and build others up.  Maybe you’ll want to challenge yourself to give x number of affirmations or compliments to different people each day; maybe you’ll want write at least one encouraging note a week to people you know; maybe you’ll want to spend time asking God to change your heart as well as the words coming out of your mouth.

Start at home:

  • Do you have a spouse? Try:
    “I love you.”
    “You’re beautiful.”
    “You’re a stud.”
    “You’re my best friend.”
  • Do you have children? Try:
    “You’re special.”
    “I’m proud of you.”
    “I’m thankful that I’m your mom/dad.”
  • Do you have friends? (If not, join a church!) Try:
    “I appreciate your wise words.”
    “God has blessed me through you.”
    “You have a real talent for <fill in the blank>.
    “I’m glad I saw you today.”

People are regularly injured by words shot at them and about them.  By choosing not to grumble and instead say words of blessing and affirmation, we indeed avoid a serious sin that ranks right up there with sexual immorality and idolatry.

Proverbs 18:21:
—–“The tongue has the power of life and death,
—–and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
I’ve quoted from Seismic Shifts before about worship not being a spectator sport and falling asleep while praying.

6 thoughts on “The “big” sins of idolatry, sexual immorality… and grumbling?!

  1. Monica deRegt says:

    Thanks for the good perspective. It’s easy to “let something go” when you don’t think of it as serious as some other sins…this is a good reminder!!


  2. Daniel says:

    That is an awesome text.thanks for the teaching on grumbling


  3. SjG says:

    Thank you, Monica and Daniel, for your comments!


  4. Alisher says:

    I hope you are publishing like that materials


  5. SjG says:

    Thank you for your encouraging words! =) Stan


  6. […] it in the same train of thought as idolatry and sexual immorality. The sin of grumbling is not just a “little” sin. Elsewhere Paul holds up grumbling and arguing as being opposed to being blameless and pure. As […]


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