Over the years, I have had the privilege of teaching thousands of folks in a variety of settings. Few of them ever realize how much I have learned while engaged in the teaching process. From time to time there are those moments when an exceptional clarity of thought reveals itself through a student. It is at these times that the heart of a teacher is most gratified.
I am currently engaged with a group of 14 students who are pursuing a deeper walk with God. We are walking together though a series of discussions based on “The First Principles,” developed by Jeff Reed, President and CEO of BILD International. (This is teaching/learning tool that I highly recommend for serious discipleship students.)
During the closing session of one series of discussions and before moving on to the next we were having an in depth discussion of decisions, personal projects, and life habits each one intends to address as a result of the discussions we had enjoyed over the passed few weeks.
One of my students indicated that she had spent the entire series “griping and murmuring” about how difficult the discussions and required study had been on her. The “decision” she has made is to stop murmuring and complaining. She presented a very clear picture of what kind of attitude she had presented, read for us a prayer that she was praying regarding this, and revealed some of the study she had done. One item she shared was a line from the dictionary definition of “murmur.” It had been a real eye-opener for her, as it was to the rest of the class.
From an online dictionary “The Free Dictionary by Farlex” she had discovered the following definition of murmur. Murmur: An abnormal sound, usually emanating from the heart; that sometimes indicates a diseased condition.
When she read this definition, there was a palpable silence in the room as 14 students and a teacher hefted the weight of those words. If the students were thinking similarly to me, we were wondering how many heart diseased individuals were sitting in that room. Our teacher of the evening went on to explain that from her study she had determined that when one murmurs about his circumstances, he is really murmuring against God, suggesting that somehow God has failed to live up to expectation or promise. This student, as the result of a deeper study of God’s Word than she had ever before participated in, made a decision to address a heart condition that was robbing her of the joy of living in Christ.
We shared together the scripture from Hebrews 3:8 which says, “Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘They do always err in their hearts; and they have not known my ways. So I swear in my wrath, The shall not enter into my rest.’”
If you have a heart condition that manifests itself in murmuring, it is impossible for you to ever enter into spiritual and emotional rest. Your heart is always stirred up and filled with discontent. As well, you will continually disturb whatever rest those around you may desire. Murmuring is the fertilizer for bitterness, and in it the root of bitterness will grow and prosper as you defile not only your own heart, but the hearts of those around you as well.
A murmuring spirit is a spirit that does not trust God. It is never sure that God has its best interest in mind, never confident that God is in control. God’s sovereign acts are seen as mistakes and failures on the part of God and others and one wallows in a continual pit of unrest and self-pity. As one of our elders said the other day, “Trust Jesus.” Loving Jesus and trusting Jesus are two entirely different things. They are simply not the same. When one trusts God he will not murmur. When one fails to trust in the providential care of the Lord he develops an abnormal sound, usually emanating from the heart; that indicates a diseased condition.
There is however, a powerful antidote; found in Philippians 4:4-7: “Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”