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If you’ve never seen this “German Kid Video,” it became an instant classic as soon as it hit YouTube. This kid is obviously so addicted to computer games (and a little on the crazy side) that he absolutely can’t control himself both when the game won’t load quickly enough…and when the game comes on. My personal favorite part of the video is when he has to press the “Escape” key, but from beating the key board it has popped off and he has to find it! Much like this German kid, the Israelites are a bunch of crybabies who complain about what they do have and about what they don’t have. This passage gives us a lot of insight for our own lives. Do we think much about our own attitudes of complaining? Do we think about where it comes from and what it does to us? Do we realize what it means for our faith in God through Christ?
Read Numbers 11 – 12. This nation of Israel is God’s chosen people whom He has called to Himself, freed from slavery, saved their lives, and is leading them to their Promised Land. As they have just left the mountain of God after worshipping Him there for about a year, now they are embarking into the wilderness towards their land “flowing with milk and honey.” Just as the journey starts, the people complain to God. Because of their complaining, God sends fire to burn the outskirts of their camp so that they can know and feel His anger against bitter spirits. Moses prayed, and the fire died down…which was a picture of God’s fiery judgment of the sin of complaining in hell. Then an especially complaining group starts griping about the food in the wilderness. They complain about the manna (which used to be a blessing to them), and they say they want to go back to SLAVERY where they at least got to eat better. Then Moses himself complained to God about the burden of leadership God put on his shoulders. So God gave them quail (meat they had complained for), but He showed them that what we complain for isn’t always good for us as He judged those who ate the quail. Then to top it all off, Moses’ closest confidants, Aaron and Miriam, complained about him being the leader and they not getting to share the power of leadership. God had enough. He called the three of them into His office (the tent of meeting), and had a heart-to-heart with the whiners in the wilderness. God judged Aaron and Miriam by giving Miriam leprosy for seven days. That’s the story of 11 – 12 in a nut shell.
What’s the point of the story? God hates complaining! It seems like such a small sin in our life, but think about how God has everything to complain about…but He never does. If we really understand that all we deserve is hell, then everything we have is truly a blessing from God. When we complain, we are revealing our own lack of faith in God. And even more so, we’re saying that Jesus Christ isn’t enough for our joy. The Apostle Paul said that he had experienced what it meant to be poor, needy, and hungry…but he also had experienced what it meant to be rich, in abundance, and having plenty. But his attitude wasn’t swung or swayed by what he had or didn’t have. His contentment, satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy were in Jesus (Philippians 4:10-13). If we truly believe that Christ is enough for our lives, then what else could we possibly be lacking? In Christ we find our joy, our peace, our righteousness, our fellowship, our rest, our identity, our strength, etc. The famous verse “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” is first and foremost talking about the simple sin of complaining. It’s so easy to complain, but through Christ we can be truly content with all our circumstances.
For this sermon, I’m having a dad in our youth ministry share his testimony. He always thought he didn’t have a testimony. He always wanted a testimony for people to listen to him about how great God is. Well, God gave him a testimony…by giving him a cancerous brain tumor. This guy’s faith and contentment in Christ is amazing! He just wants to point people to Jesus through the whole situation. That’s the testimony I want my teens to see first hand. Actually, this passage isn’t ultimately about complaining. It is ultimately about our faith, joy and contentment in Christ. Choose to find your contentment in Christ in every single circumstance!