The difference of complaining and explaining

The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, when the

Sabeans raided them and took them away — Job 1:14-15

In the last article we looked at the difference between complaining and explaining in the Word of God. In Numbers 11:1 it says, “Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord.” When mentioned in the Bible, whining and complaining usually revealed a bad (sinful) attitude toward something or someone. It seems that explaining something was very acceptable, as long as it was factual and true.

This should give us some insight as to what is acceptable for us today. People will sometimes condemn us for no reason at all; or because we are telling the truth. It is possible to tell something too often, then it can also be complaining.

In Job 1:13-19, messengers came and told Job about the Sabeans killing and stealing, about the fire of God burning up the sheep and the servants, the Chaldeans raiding the camels and killing the servants, and how Job’s sons and daughters were killed when the house fell on them.

The messengers were merely giving a report (explanation) of what actually happened. Job’s reaction was unbelievable; he didn’t reach for nerve medicine or booze. Instead, he blessed and worshiped the Lord.

In Ruth 1:20-21, Naomi says, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me? I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where she is condemned for what she said; it wasn’t considered complaining either.

In II Timothy 4:10-11 Paul says, “for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica – Crescans for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia. Only Luke is with me.” Then verse 14 says, “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works.” Then in verse16 it says, “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them.”

To many people, this could sound like Paul was complaining. But it is recorded as if it was simply an account of events that took place.

So how does this apply to us today? I hear a lot of people talking about their health failing as they get older. There is nothing wrong with telling the truth, if we don’t go to extreme and repeat the story all the time. But we must be sure the person we are talking to is willing to listen to us. Maybe you are not old, but the circumstances of life have not been favorable to you.

Find someone you can share your burden with, who can understand and sympathize with your situation.

There is a difference between complaining and explaining. Do you do a lot of one or the other? Have you gone too far as you shared your troubles with others? We must be careful that our words, thoughts, and actions glorify our Heavenly Father. Comments or questions, contact me at: thoughtsonword@gmail.com


Lyndon Stimeling, of Richfield, has been writing about faith and family for many years. He has self-published three books, “Common Thoughts on The Word” in 2016 and

“Eye of a Needle” in 2017 and “Common Thoughts on The Word II” in 2019. He has also had articles published in The Coming Home Journal and local newspapers and has written a children’s book.


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