Exploring the Book of Ya’aqov, Pt. 24
Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged. Look! the Judge is standing at the door! As an example, brothers, of the suffering of evil and of the patience, take the prophets who spoke in the Name of Adonai. Look! we call happy those who were enduring with the perseverance of Iyov—which you have heard of—and you have seen Adonai’s goal: that Adonai is very compassionate and merciful. (יַעֲקֹב Ya’aqov 5:9-11, mjlt)
You’ve been gravely wronged. Or, perhaps, not wronged, but definitely deeply offended. Or maybe not so much offended as frustrated or inconvenienced or mildly bothered in general. But they surely have it out for you, and they’re doing it to you on purpose! Or, perhaps, not on purpose, but they’re definitely being incredibly selfish. Or maybe not so much selfish as neglectful or forgetful or just plain oblivious. Well, they’ve got another thing coming! You’re going to give them a piece of your mind! Or, perhaps, not give them a piece of your mind, but definitely complain about it to someone not directly involved. Or maybe not complain about it so much as moan and groan and grumble about it… to yourself.
When we “grumble against one another,” it’s generally because we believe some kind of wrong or offense has taken place. But rather than trying to work it out—whether because we feel there is nothing that can be done to fix the problem, or because we have a primal aversion to confrontation, or because, deep down, we’re just using the issue as an excuse to gripe—we moan and groan to anyone who will listen… especially in our hearts.
Grumbling, then, is more than complaining. Warranted or not, outward or not, to grumble is to criticize, to accuse… to judge. Our grumbling is a response to a judgment we are making about another person—about their reasons, their motives, and their intentions. We should not be surprised, then, that we are sternly advised not to grumble against others, otherwise, “you may… be judged.” Indeed, as the Master teaches us, “in whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged, and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you” (Matit’yahu 7:2, mjlt). When we judge others in our grumbling, we are also bringing judgment upon ourselves.
To grumble against another person is easy; what is difficult is to endure a real or perceived hurt through perseverance and patience. “As an example… take the prophets” and their “suffering of evil.” Elijah persevered through the persecutions of Ahab and Jezebel, enduring droughts and stretches of hiding in the desert. Daniel waited on God while also waiting for the consequence of his prayerful civil disobedience; and again he waited, facing certain death, sentenced to the lion’s den. And Jeremiah, worse than his imprisonment in a cistern of sinking mud, suffered the calling of a prophet to a people who refused to listen. These all patiently bore the hardships set against them, not grumbling, but counting on God to relieve them.
Consider also “the perseverance of [Job]—which you have heard of.” He lost all his children and everything he had, yet could still say, “Will we receive the good from God, but not receive the evil?” (Job 2:10). Though Job questioned God, he nevertheless remained true to the Holy One. In the face of unimaginable suffering, this “we call happy.”
Rather than grumbling, we need to endure suffering with graciousness toward those against us—we must strive toward “Adonai’s goal,” which is to be “very compassionate and merciful.” The Master teaches us to “[be] merciful, as your Father is also merciful; and judge not, and you will not be judged” (Luke 6:36-37, mjlt). When we rely on God’s patience and mercy, yet deny the same to others, we become worthy of harsh, divine judgment (see Ro. 2:3-5).
No matter how you feel about someone, and no matter how much hurt or offense or animosity you have received from them, grumbling—and judging through your grumbling—is not the godly answer. Instead, seek to share with them God’s goal; endure, be patient, and show compassion and mercy. Don’t put yourself under judgment in your grumbling against others. “Look! the Judge is standing at the door!”
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!