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Grumbling, Gratitude & Grace

by Paul Etterling  
3/28/2007 / Devotionals

While helping my dad change the oil in the car, some of the oil spilt onto the concrete. When it was time to clean up, Dad said, "Go find something to clean that up." Our water hose was not long enough to reach from the water spout to the oil. Into the garage I went to find an empty five gallon bucket. I filled it with water.

Going back to where the oil was, I took that five gallons of water and poured it out on the oil to wash the oil away. Watching the water carry the oil away I realized that there was a problem. The oil certainly was not in the same spot. It was now all over the concrete. Instead of washing the oil away, the water had simply spread the oil all over the concrete. Sudenly, I remembered that water and oil do not mix. I now stood at the edge of a bigger mess than the one I started with.

Grumbling and gratitude are like water and oil. They just don't mix! Yet, grumbling and gratitude do have something in common. They are expressions of the condition of the heart. Solomon said, "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23)."

It is simple! Grumbling expresses the discontentment of the heart. Gratitude expresses the contentment of the heart. For the believer, contentment and discontentment cannot and should not reside together in the heart.

Many problems in the church today are rooted in discontentment. Those who are discontented are those who grumble the loudest. But Paul reminds us "Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers (Ephesians 4:29)." Grumbling is a form of corrupt words. It certainly does not work for the edification of the body of Christ. It is gratitude that will edify and impart grace to the hearer.

Spurgeon explained it in this way, "A heavy wagon was being dragged along a country lane by a team of oxen. The axles groaned and creaked terribly, when the oxen turning around thus addressed the wheels, 'Hey there, why do you make so much noise? We bear all the labor, and we -- not you -- ought to cry out!' Those who complain first in our churches are those who have the least to do. The gift of grumbling is largely dispensed among those who have no other talents, or who keep what they have wrapped up in a napkin."

Paul Etterling is the assistant pastor of the Westerville FWB Church in Westerville, Ohio. Copyright 2007 by Paul Etterling. Permission is granted for reprint. If article is used please notify Paul with publication name and date via the website

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