From the start of Genesis, to the end of Revelation, it’s taught that God’s word, His commandment, imparts life to us, like an instruction manual that comes with something you buy, that keeps you from breaking it and helps you to get the most benefit from it.
I have one event in my life that stands out in my memory as the clearest example of the truth of this concept as it applies to me personally.
About 20 years ago, I was working at a job where I didn’t interact with anyone all day long. We were building very specialized high-tech light bulbs. These bulbs were extremely high-wattage and were used for situations that required a lot of light, like, for example, the lights that were mounted on the space shuttle Challenger to light up the surface of Jupiter to photograph it.
We sat in a large noisy room, about a dozen of us, each sitting in front of lathes that turned tubes of quartz crystal glass as we heated them with acetylene torches until they were white hot and molten so we could work with them and shape them. It was noisy from the torch so I wore earmuffs, and I wore black sunglasses because of the bright molten glass I was staring at all day; so I was kind of cut off from the world and alone with my own thoughts all through the day – every day! And my thoughts turned to complaining, about everything and nothing in particular, all day long, every day for months, so much so that I lived in a deep dark depression.
Then one day, during my evening Bible reading, I read the following, from 1 Corinthians 10:5-12, (about the Israelites in the desert on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land):
Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, "THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY." Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
And I knew I had been sinning. So I confessed my sin to God, agreeing with Him that His word was right, and my behavior was wrong; I asked Him to forgive me; and I promised to stop. And I contemplated why complaining must be wrong – how I wasn’t giving God the gratitude He deserved, and how I was hurting Him.
The next morning, back at work, a few hours into my workday, I suddenly noticed that I was complaining, in my head, and I had been since the day began. So, I repented again; asked for forgiveness, and promised to stop.
An hour later I had fallen into it again, but I caught myself sooner and sooner; next after a few minutes; then just as I was beginning, I stopped myself; until finally, I caught myself before I began.
Over the course of just one day my habit was gone. And I changed, from being miserable, to being happy – joyful!
And so, when I first repented, I started out by thinking my obedience was giving God the gratitude that was rightly due to Him for the endless series of gifts He had given me in this life. But I ended up by thinking that His command to not complain was just one more gift He had given to me—among the greatest yet—through this commandment, He gave me the ability to receive and enjoy the other gifts He had given.