“We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!” — Numbers 11:5-6
Just as each stage of physical growth has its own peculiar dangers and problems, so the different stages of spiritual growth present hazards and challenges. The younger Christian is zealous for the Lord but may lack spiritual knowledge. The older believer has a great deal of knowledge, but his seal may have grown cold.
I have felt for a long time that one of the particular temptations of the maturing Christian is the danger of getting accustomed to his blessings. Like the world traveler who has been everywhere and seen everything, the maturing Christian is in danger of taking his blessings for granted and getting so accustomed to them that they fail to excite him as they once did.
Emerson said that if the stars came out only once a year, everybody would stay up all night to behold them. We have seen the stars so often that we don’t bother to look at them anymore. We have grown accustomed to our blessings.
The Israelites in the wilderness got accustomed to their blessings, and God had to chasten the people (Numbers 11). God had fed the nation with heavenly manna each morning, and yet the people were getting tired of it. “But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!”
Nothing but manna! They were experiencing a miracle of God’s provision every morning; yet they were no longer excited about it. Nothing but manna!
One of the evidences that we have grown accustomed to our blessings is this spirit of criticism and complaining. Instead of thanking God for what we have, we complain about it and tell Him we wish we had something else. You can be sure that if God did give us what we asked for, we would eventually complain about that. The person who has gotten accustomed to his blessings can never be satisfied.
Another evidence of this malady is the idea that others have a better situation than we do. The Israelites remembered their diet in Egypt, and longed to return to the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. They were saying, “The people in Egypt are so much better off than we are!” Obviously, they had forgotten the slavery they had endured in Egypt and the terrible bondage from which God had delivered them. Slavery is a high price to pay for a change in diet!
Being in the pastorate, I hear my share of criticism from church members. I always listen to honest, sincere criticism and try to profit from it, but I pay little attention to the “wilderness grumblings” of the disgruntled saints who have gotten accustomed to their blessings. In fact, sometimes I even suggest that they pray about attending another church for a time, just to see if their criticisms are valid. They usually come back in a chastened mood.
In our families, our children go through this grumbling stage, usually early in their teen years. Their word is “bored”–they are bored with the old house, bored with the old car, bored with the same old food, bored with the same old church, and so on. Each of their friends has a better house or car, a better church, and enjoys better food. Of course, parents are hurt by this kind of talk, but they love the children anyway and patiently wait for them to grow up.
I believe Gpod is grieved when we get accustomed to our blessings and start to complain and criticize. The record in Numbers 11 tells us that even Moses became discouraged and wanted to die. I wonder how many pastors, Sunday school teachers, and choir members have resigned because of constant complaining of believers who got accustomed to their blessings. God chastened the Israelites because of their complaining. He gave them the flesh that they begged for, but this flesh brought death. They would have been better off to have settled for the manna! “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul” (Psalms 106:15).
The best cure for the sin of getting accustomed to our blessings is this: Constantly give thanks to God for all He gives and all He does. A thankful heart, lost in the wonder of God’s grace and goodness, will never take God’s blessings for granted. Just as a child is constantly filled with wonder at what life brings him, so the maturing believer must marvel at God’s gifts and God’s provisions. Why should God bless us? Who are we that God should care for us?
In the final analysis, it is pride that makes us accustomed to our blessings. We forget that we have been saved by grace, not by our own merit, and that it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed. Pride leads to complaining and criticizing, and pride leads to a fall.
We must beware of getting accustomed to our blessings!