Do you ever struggle with negativity? When does complaining become a problem? How do we break the habit of focusing only on what we think has gone wrong?
THE READING (Num. 11:1–6, 10-15, 31-35; 12:1-16)
The story of God’s people in the wilderness shifts abruptly in Numbers 11 from a picture of total obedience to continuous complaining. At the end of this reading we are left wondering whether Israel really trusts God enough to receive the inheritance he has promised them.
Discuss these questions to get a better understanding of the text.
- What is the first complaint in 11:1-3? Who is complaining? How does God respond? How does Moses react? What changes as a result of Moses’ actions?
- What is the second complaint in 11:4-6? What’s different about Moses’ reaction in 11:10-15? How is the outcome in 11:33-34 different from the first episode? Do you think Moses had anything to do with this different outcome?
- Can you blame Moses for the way he reacted to the second complaint? How would you have reacted if you had been in his shoes?
- What is the third complaint in 12:1-2? Who was complaining? Why were they grumbling?
- Is Moses’ response more like his reaction in the first or second complaint? Do you see a pattern forming that suggests a way we can lead disgruntled people?
- What is the overall picture these three examples are showing us?
Discuss these questions to envision what it would be like to practically live out this passage.
- Is complaining always wrong? (cf. Phil. 2:14).
- Why is negativity so contagious while it seems hard to influence others to be positive?
- When Israel recounted their past, they had a selective memory (Num. 11:5). How does this lead to a negative attitude?
- God punished the Israelites by giving them what they asked (Ps. 106:14-15). How does the gospel turn this around by grace (i.e., an undeserved gift)?
- Our time on earth is limited. Should we spend it griping? How can we become more positive?