March 22nd, 2007

To Murmur


photo credit: torontofotob

And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them. (1 Ne. 2:12)

The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines the verb ‘murmur’ as “To grumble; to complain; to utter complaints in a low, half articulated voice; to utter sullen discontent;”

Nephi instructs us in the above passage that murmuring stems as a result of ignorance. Not knowing the divine dealings of their Creator, his brothers found it easy to express discontent with the actions of their father based on instructions he had received from the Lord.

Ignorance can—and often does—lead to murmuring. Commenting on this passage, Elder Maxwell said:

Failing to understand the “dealings” of the Lord with His children—meaning His relations with and treatment of His children—is very fundamental. Murmuring is but one of the symptoms, and not the only consequence either; in fact, brothers and sisters, this failure affects everything else!

To misread something so crucial constitutes a failure to know God, who then ends up being wrongly seen as unreachable, uninvolved, uncaring, and unable—a disabled and diminished Deity, really—about whose seeming limitations, ironically, some then quickly complain. (Neal A. Maxwell, “Lessons from Laman and Lemuel,” Ensign, Nov 1999, 6)

Indeed, those who murmur suffer from a much deeper spiritual malady that, were it resolved, would cure the outward expression of inward doubt and ignorance. Jesus spoke of the relationship between a servant and a master as being a relationship of privileged knowledge. The servant does not know his master’s will. Often he is asked to serve out of obedience, trusting that the master knows what is best.

We are not left, however, to merely be servants. We can and should seek to obtain the title of “friend”, as others have done. A friend, Jesus said, is trusted with all information and knows what the other is doing and the reasons for doing so.

On our path to attaining such a glorious status, we must be obedient servants that do as the Master asks. Murmuring shows distrust in His counsel and doubt regarding our own spiritual standing. Because there are so many who lack truth and hence are ignorant as to the Lord’s dealings, many murmur.

Elder Neal A. Maxwell listed four characteristics of those who murmur:

First, the murmurer often lacks the courage to express openly his concerns. If the complaint concerns a peer, the murmurer seldom follows Jesus’ counsel, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.” (Matt. 18:15.)

Second, murmurers make good conversational cloak holders. Though picking up no stones themselves, they provoke others to do so.

Third, while a murmurer insists on venting his own feelings, he regards any response thereto as hostile. (See 2 Ne. 1:26.) Furthermore, murmurers seldom take into account the bearing capacity of their audiences.

Fourth, murmurers have short memories. Israel arrived in Sinai, then journeyed on to the Holy Land though they were sometimes hungry and thirsty. But the Lord rescued them, whether by the miraculous appearance by quail or by water struck from a rock. (See Num. 11:31; Ex. 17:6.) Strange, isn’t it, brothers and sisters, how those with the shortest memories have the longest lists of demands! However, with no remembrance of past blessings, there is no perspective about what is really going on. (Neal A. Maxwell, “‘Murmur Not’,” Ensign, Nov 1989, 82)

Additionally, Elder H. Ross Workman suggested three steps taken on the path to murmuring:

First, the servants began to question. They felt to exercise their own judgment upon the instruction given by their master. “What need hath my lord of this tower, seeing this is a time of peace?” they said (D&C 101:48). They questioned first in their own minds and then planted questions in the minds of others. Questioning came first.

Second, they began to rationalize and excuse themselves from doing what they had been instructed to do. They said: “Might not this money be given to the exchangers? For there is no need of these things” (D&C 101:49). Thus, they made an excuse for disobedience.

The third step inevitably follows: slothfulness in following the commandment of the Master. The parable says, “They became very slothful, and they hearkened not unto the commandments of their lord” (D&C 101:50). Thus, the stage was set for disaster. (H. Ross Workman, “Beware of Murmuring,” Ensign, Nov 2001, 85)

I believe Elder Marvin J. Ashton summed it up best:

A quality person will murmur not. He will not find fault or criticize, belittle, or nag. When I think of those who are examples of proficient murmuring on a continuing basis, I think of Laman and Lemuel in the Book of Mormon. By contrast I admire Nephi, who never murmured. Instead he was positive and had no time for contention, discouragement, or apathy.

Someone has wisely stated that hate is not the opposite of love. Apathy is. We will not have time for apathy in life’s journey if we speak and think positively. Seek, search, and work for worthy eternal qualities and friends. (Marvin J. Ashton, “Be a Quality Person,” Ensign, Feb 1993, 64)

May we not murmur, but have faith. May we seek to understand things “as they really are”, seek to understand the mysteries of the kingdom, and seek to become the Lord’s friends who know His dealings.

Read quotes about “murmuring” on Quoty

2 Responses to “To Murmur”

  1. Michael L. McKee
    March 22, 2007 at 10:03 am #

    One might wonder if Connor had anyone in particular in mind when he posted this thread. Whether or not he did is unimportant, as all will (hopefully) know if the consideration fits their profile.

    I, for one, have felt a twinge of resembling the image he has portrayed. While I do not believe I am an habitual murmurer, I am profoundly aware that I am certainly a frequent visitor to the realm of some of the siblings of murmuring.

    I will admit to being somewhat defensive at times when I post responses to the posts Connor presents to his adherents. While it is, quite sincerely, not my intent to be so, I just seem to have difficulties at times with those who, unlike myself, cannot or will not give many of the things Connor posits a reasonably fair chance to get off the ground before his detractors are poised to pounce upon his thoughts with, what I believe is, reckless abandon.

    I am well aware that Connor is quite capable of fending for himself both intellectually, spiritually, and scripturally. I envy his ,and many of the followers of his blogs abilities in these areas as I am woefully inept in many ways, comparatively speaking.

    My greatest deficiency, however, is not, I believe, in the spiritual realm of understanding. I sincerely believe, when I am properly receptive to the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, I seem to be inundated with things which I know are not coming from the realm of the adversary. That being said, I also know that when I am possessed with the spirit of contention, the spirit is grieved and will flee from my presence posthaste.

    Oftentimes when I respond to a comment which seems to me to be antithetical to the spirit in which Connor has presented it, I likely fail to stop and consider the position of the opposing commenter’s viewpoint. I suppose what happens in these cases is that I emotionally become bewildered wondering; “Just what is it that you don’t understand? Are you seriously so blind as to not see what he is telling you? Do you have any concept of the consequences you may face by being so obstinately opposed to the information presented? to name a few. Quite honestly, I consider words which are far more tainted with the adversary’s vocabulary at times also.

    I hope Connor will forgive my making comparisons without his consent, but I’ll take the chance that he will offer me the opportunity to seek forgiveness should he feel I have misrepresented him in any way. I believe Connor and I have a couple of things in common. One of them is the passionate love we have for things which are uniquely American such as the originally inspired and blessed Framers Constitution of the United States of America. We feel we understand the original intent of the Framers and recognize that any attempt to alter that intent would be detrimental and destructive to the retention of the power imbued spiritually by our Savior Jesus Christ. We likely feel the incremental alterations accomplished over time have been brought about by evil conspiring men/women who either intentionally or unwittingly have brought us to the uncomfortable position in which we find ourselves today. I also feel we have the common belief that what we are attempting to tell others is crucially important and because we love our brothers and sisters (all of Heavenly Father’s children) with a profoundly deep (trying to emulate our Savior Jesus Christ) love. We simply cannot bare the thought of anyone being lost to the insidious and powerful enticings of Lucifer who is the sworn enemy of God. Perhaps, to some, this may be considered a rather sanctimonious pretension, but I assure you that our motivation is purely and simply love for our brothers and sisters whom we have known, not only in this life, but the life we enjoyed previous to this, our second estate. Once again, I pray that Connor will consider my thoughts with a compassionate ear and forgive my taking such liberties.

    Now, I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincerest apologies to anyone who has found anything I have said, or may yet say in the future (providing Connor doesn’t ban me for “thread jacking” or other wanton lapses of courtesy) offensive or otherwise, seemingly insensitive, abusive or just plain ignorant.

    I thoroughly enjoy this newly acquired opportunity to engage others concerning topics which I believe are crucially and even eternally important.

    I should like to think that some day after the Savior has returned and evil has been vanquished that we are all able to look back upon these experiences with a sense of gratitude for each other’s efforts to be charitable to one another even when what we said may have seemed less than inspired, or charitable.

    Well, I have pontificated long enough so I’ll declare my resolve to really try to relegate my sarcastic, defensive nature to the back of my mind where it can eventually be discarded by the power of the Savior’s Atonement. Until then, I hope all will remember that I, like yourselves, are works in progress and that some of us are still in the infantile stage of our progressive journey to the Celestial Kingdom of our Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.

    To those who may not have the same goal, I offer my respect for your agency to choose your own path, and will ever defend your right to be free according to your understanding of the term.

  2. Connor
    March 22, 2007 at 10:49 pm #

    One might wonder if Connor had anyone in particular in mind when he posted this thread.

    I had everybody in mind when writing this post. Surely we all go through our won bouts of murmuring as we question the path we are on and wonder why the Lord has seen fit to give us the experiences through which we are passing. Nobody is immune from the temptation to murmur during times of doubt, present company most certainly included. :)

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