Caution, Complaining Christians
Life Lessons from Hard Times – Studies in James
One interesting exercise is to imagine that your conversation is being recorded and printed for your benefit or critique, whatever is applicable. We have already heard from James that the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts…forest set on fire by a small spark. How would your speech transcript look? James is warning about grumbling (literally ‘groaning’) and complaining Christians. He has earlier warned about fights and quarrels among you.
Now the caution is ramped up. The Judge is standing at the door! Again, James the prophet is warning his readers of internal discord and the damage and judgment and results.
James 5:8-9 8You too, be patient and stand firm, because the LORD’s coming is near. 9Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
1. Looking up rather than looking down and around cures a complaining spirit. These Christians lived in the same generation as Jesus. James was first circulated about a year after Jesus’ death and was the only NT book written for 15 years until Galatians. So in the midst of the living out of the church in Acts 8-15, and the persecutions and expanding message of Jesus, who was crucified and is risen, these Christians were being drawn down by human conflict rather than focusing on Jesus who was coming back again. Christian Living 101. Be patient. The Lord’s coming is near.
2. The full circle of results of a complaining spirit. James warns that not only is there no benefit to grumbling and complaining against others, but the sharp words and tongues are turned back against us. You will be judged. Remembering that our works justify our faith (James 2), meaning justifying us before men, and James circles back to the theme verse of the entire epistle: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19-20.
Cultivating a critical and angry spirit, expressed in quarrels and fights with others, is an easy trap to fall into. With our tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s image….My brothers. This should not be. James 3:9-10. We all slip into these critical times. This text says to me. Stop it! Be careful who you criticize! It comes back to judge and bite me! Blessing on you this week in this regard.
– John Moore