ARE YOU A GRUMP?

I am not asking you if you know someone who is a grump. I am not asking you if there is someone in your family or with whom you work who is a grumpy person. I am asking you, dear reader, a personal question: Are you a grump?

Perhaps you will not feel comfortable answering such a question until you have confirmed what the word “grump” means. Describing a man as “a grump” is the same thing as saying he is a grumpy person. “Grumpy” means “irritable or grouchy. An example of grumpy is a person who is always complaining and unhappy” [www.yourdictionary.com]. Obviously, if someone refers to you or me as “a real grump,” those are not words of praise and admiration.

Why are people grumpy? There is a difference between what we call “having a bad day” (briefly lapsing into grumpiness) and being a perpetual grump. One reason people act in a grumpy manner is a lack of sleep. When we are not well-rested, we tend to be irritable. We see that often in small kids who desperately need a nap. The same is true in grownups who have had a shortage of sleep. Getting some rest does not remove all of life’s problems, but it can help a person’s state of mind (Mark 6:31).

Some folks act grumpily because they are mad about something. What do angry people sometimes do? They take their frustrations out on others. Uncontrolled anger has evil fruits (Matthew 7:16).

Sometimes people are in a grumpy mood because they are hurting. They may be experiencing physical pain. They do not intend to be irritable, but they do not feel well. Others may be going through mental pain caused by the loss of a job, the loss of a loved one, or a lost opportunity.

Still others may be a grump because some desire of their is not fulfilled. We expect little children to do that because, well, they are little children. It is not a pretty sight, though, to see adults showing the same level of immaturity that small kids display. “Not getting our way” is no excuse for turning into Mr. or Mrs. Grouch.

The ugly truth about some people, however, is their grumpy disposition is not a temporary state of unhappiness that fades quickly when their circumstances take a turn for the better. No, some folks just have a day-in-and-day-out character which is filled with ugliness, darkness, and yes, grumpiness. That is just who they are, every day in every situation. Paul spoke about himself and others living in “malice and envy, hateful and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). Grumpiness and hatefulness go hand in hand.

Great damage is done when Christians act like grumps. Grumpiness ruins relationships. Who enjoys a close relationship with grumpy people? No one! Grumpiness soils reputations, and remember, when the reputation of an individual member of the church is stained, the church’s reputation is harmed also.

Grumpy saints turn people off to Christianity and run them away. There is no virtue in causing others to stumble (Luke 17:1,2). Doors are closed when people perceive that we are grumps.

We are not making excuses for them, but it is a fact that a number of young people have been turned off by the grumpy disposition which they see in older Christians. True, younger folks can be grumps, too. It also is true that if I see someone else acting inappropriately or manifesting a rotten attitude, that does not change my responsibility to serve the Lord. Still, it is undeniable that grouchy, aging disciples, who ought to be showing a pattern of good works (Titus 2:7), discourage and turn off adolescents, teens, and others by their never-ending grumpiness.

What if my answer is, “Yes, I am a grump,” what then? Our Lord wants His peace to rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). Grumps lack that peace. Our Lord wants us to rejoice in Him always (Philippians 4:4). Grumpy saints do not do that. Something needs to be fixed, does it not?

Suggestion: Meditate on what blessings we do have and what good things are going on in our lives. Thank God for the sunshine (Matthew 5:45), daily bread (Matthew 6:11), His forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7), and every good gift from Him (James 1:17).

Suggestion: Pray about it. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

Suggestion: Verbalize your commitment to imitate the heart of Jesus (Philippians 2:5), Who certainly was not a grumpy person. Consult with spiritually mature Christians about how they have dealt with attitude issues. Listen carefully to their wisdom.

Suggestion: “Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5), then once you have assessed where you stand on “the grumpiness scale,” hold yourself accountable. Keep a record for a period of time of how you have interacted with others. How often were you pleasant and courteous? How much were you grumpy and rude? If you do not like the honest results of your self-evaluation, do not try to justify your improper disposition: repent and make a commitment to change for the better.

May the Lord help each of us to be more kind, more thoughtful, and yes, less grumpy. It is doable.

— Roger D. Campbell

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