We are getting unstuck from negativity. Complaining and criticizing comes pretty easily to most of us. What do you like to complain about? Have each small group member list the top three things they like to be negative about.
- Negativity is sin. Read Numbers 11:1-3. Complaining is expressing dissatisfaction with a circumstance which is not wrong and about which I am doing nothing myself to correct. In a slightly different way, criticism is dwelling on the
perceived faults of another with no view or action for their good. Complaining and criticism is negativity, and sadly, these behaviors come to us naturally. Why do you think we are bent towards negativity? In what ways do we excuse our negativity?
- Read Numbers 11:4-6 and 12:1-2. Negativity is faithless, loveless, destructive words about people or situations that
only ventilate my flesh and don’t advance God’s purposes. It is a low estimation of everything but our own thoughts. Like the Israelites’ complaints, our negativity distorts our perception of reality. They complained as though they lived in the palace of Pharaoh rather than in slavery to the Egyptians. How does negativity distort our perception of reality? How can we keep our perception of reality clear of negativity?
- God hears our negativity. If our praise rises to God as a sweet smelling aroma, one can only imagine the stench of
our negativity. What do you believe God thinks about our negativity? Do you think you could go a whole day without
negativity? How do you think you would do with such a challenge?
- Pastor James shared five logs that kindle the negativity fire: (1) A critical eye. Are you a person who tends to see things negatively? Or are you a person who tends not to see anything wrong? (2) Wrong expectations. There are some situations and people that God might never change. With some people you cannot win, and if you continue to demand change you will be disappointed. Where have you been holding wrong expectations? (3) Negative friends. How do negative friends influence our perspective? What should one do with negative friends? (4) Unresolved hurt. When we hold the hurts of past, we become bitter. What in your past could become bitterness? Where is God calling you to resolve hurt? (5) Bad time management. When we have too much or too little time, we make ourselves vulnerable to sin and negativity. Which are you more vulnerable to, too much time or too little time? How can you manage your time better this week?
- Like bratty kids, our ungrateful hearts reveal our heart of selfishness. Negativity reveals a pattern of thinking that has been established over time. In what ways do you have a pattern of negative thinking? Pastor James said there is a great difference between questions asked for clarity and questions asked to feed doubt. What do you think is the difference between asking for clarity and feeding doubt?
- God hates our negativity. Read Numbers 11:1 and 12:9. Our negativity + God’s hearing = God’s anger. It’s a simple
equation. Although all of God’s wrath was poured on Jesus at the cross, we “outrage the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews
10:26-29) when we fail to respond to sin biblically. Do you have a proper view of God’s anger towards your negativity?
How can we get a balanced view of God’s grace and His anger toward sin?
- God judges our negativity. Read Numbers 11:1 and 12:10 again. The only response to a negative heart is repentance. Here are five affirmations to get unstuck from negativity: (1) I will not excuse or justify negativity. (2) I will look for the good in every situation. (3) I will accept what I cannot change. (4) I will use my speech for the good of others. (5) I will seek God’s help for victory. Which of these affirmations is most needed in your life? How can you pursue one of these commitments this week? Who will hold you accountable?