Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. –I Corinthians 10:9-12 (KJV)
The word “murmur” appears over 30 times in the Bible and in each incident it is associated with complaining, bitterness, and rebellion against God. The passage in I Corinthians 10 is a reference to the Old Testament during a time when the Israelites complained against Moses and were punished by God for their rebellion and lack of faith. The word brings to mind discontented people speaking under their breath against those seeking to lead them to do God’s will. Indeed, murmuring is always destructive and divisive.
Just as this was divisive in the days of Moses and in the time of Christ, it continues to cause division in the church today. No one knows for sure how many church splits have happened because a group of people began to murmur against the leadership of the church. We do well to consider the words of Ephesians 4:3 which challenge us to “endeavor to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” There is everything to be gained from handling problems in the church in an open and Christ-like manner.
In a recent blog I wrote about how there are no perfect families. The same can be said of churches. Someone has joked that if you ever find a perfect church do not attend, for you will surely ruin it. This tongue in cheek joke illustrates the point of how there are no perfect churches, so do not begin to believe you will ever find one. Paul the Apostle warned the Corinthian church to take heed lest they fall. This was a church brimming with controversy, conflict, immorality, and doctrinal problems. Does this sound familiar? Perhaps you have been involved in a church which was anything but perfect, and you were appalled over the problems that existed there. Just as we have problems in our families we will also face challenges in our churches.
Time would not permit me to discuss the church problems I have encountered in my 28 years of ministry. What I have learned is all churches have problems, and the more we learn to deal with them in a humble and Christ-like manner the better off we are. No matter what your congregation is facing, resist the urge to murmur and speak ill of others. Instead, go to God in devoted prayer and lift up the brethren and the leadership of the church. As a pastor, I assure you I need the prayers of God’s people every day.
You may be in a church going through intense controversy. You may feel like leaving, but God may be urging you to stay as a patient, stable, and Christ-like presence which the congregation needs. We should not easily give up on our families, so do not be quick to give up on the church. Pray, keep praying, and seek to encourage rather than murmur. You will be blessed for such a godly position.
God bless you today.