There are times when people murmur and complain amongst themselves about you. All have been subjected to it, some of us even deserved it. There is a saying in Proverbs that we shouldn’t make a big deal about someone talking behind our back, because everyone does it. I will admit, some, through habitual practice, seem to do so better than others.
Murmuring is defined as a low, indistinct sound. Little minds in little corners saying little things about what they imagine are big problems. Murmuring, complaining and gossip are examples of unethical practice that the apostles constantly addressed in their letters to the churches.
As a young Christian, you probably felt like the apostles expected such things to be eradicated from church community. A more seasoned Christian will realise the frequency of such imploring is more likely because it disappointingly happened all the time; kind of like sexual immorality. An issue spoken about often, not only because of its disastrous effects, but due to its unfortunate frequency in close knit communities.
The mature approach to dealing with the murmuring of others against yourself is usually just to let it go and carry on. Others low opinions need not bring you down. Sometimes, however, people may grumble about your friends, and a different response is required.
The response of Christ
Jesus the Christ. He was an enigma to both sinner and saint. He transcended everything and everyone around him. Jesus made Pharisees and scribes, known for their intellectual graces and wisdom, melt like snowflakes on a hot tin roof. Exceeding them was socially not kosher.
They knew the rules, laid the rules, then tweaked and manipulated them as they saw fit. They loved the praise of men nearly as much as the money of men. They had the niche market on God in their own little office. Sanctity was their speciality. Distinguishing between the clean and unclean. I would make a shirt slogan for them if I could: “OCD for G_D”.
They made sure your pot and pan was spick and span. These were the social order officers, making sure that no one mixed with the wrong crowd. Elitists who only possessed joy when they managed to steal it from those around them.
Jesus tore them to shreds.
“Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.” Luke 15: verses 1 and 2 (KJV).
In response to the Pharisees grumbling amongst themselves about His chosen company, Jesus began humiliating them through some of what are Christianity’s most precious parables. The ecstatic tone of grace and joy revealed in His sayings towards the sinner can cause readers to skim over the fact that Jesus chastised the pharisees and scribes through them. I thought I would point out a few brief observations concerning parables in Luke, chapters 15 and 16:
The Pharisees (like anyone) would seek for a lost possession of monetary value, such as sheep or a coin, until they found it, then would rejoice and have a party when they did. Yet when sinners who have immense value, want to enter the kingdom, they turn them away, and grumble amongst themselves (The lost sheep and lost coin).
The Pharisees (Elder brother) are ignorant and uncaring of their brother’s condition, yet jealous of the sinners return when the Father gives them attention as a son. They refuse to enter the party because it doesn’t revolve around them. The starchy puritans don’t even know what a party sounds like! (The lost son).
The Pharisees don’t even have the business smarts of the outside world. They have been unjust stewards and their employment is coming to an end, yet when they hear about forgiving debts on behalf of the master through human volition, they deride Jesus and his logic.
Pharisees made it hard for others to enter the kingdom through their rigidity, having no problem adding to the laws and commandments. But forgive debts and make it easier to enter? No way, not on their clock. Even though that clock was about to strike midnight! Who will they turn to for shelter when they lose their position? (The unjust steward)
The pharisees were unaware that the kingdom of God meant their redundancy, they wouldn’t decrease with John, or increase through Jesus, and so cemented their fate. Their last and only solution was to divorce their current religion and bear the shame of an adulterer (The law and the kingdom of God and divorce - Luke 16:16-18).
Finally, the Pharisees, represented by the rich man, end up in the torment of hell. Sons of Abraham, they have neglected the poor and needy brother completely. They would not share a crumb from their table, yet even the dogs (gentiles perhaps?) cared to relieve the suffering of Lazarus.
Moral of the story
You may be a religious leader, a son of Abraham, a student of Moses and the prophets, but start murmuring against who Jesus invites into His presence, and you may get roasted with hellfire too.
Joshua Robbie is currently serving the Lord under Pastors Ronnie and Shirley Naidoo of KZN Celebration Centre in Tongaat South Africa. He and His wife Rene’ moved from Australia to South Africa in April 2016. Their desire is to help in whatever way they can so that the church can become all that God has purposed her to be. Josh is a painter by trade and also enjoys sports such as surfing, basketball and boxing.
Josh Robbie previous articles may be viewed http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/josh-robbie.html