"Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord; and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp." Numbers 11:1
God is always angry with those who grumble and complain against others. It is a self-righteous attitude on display for all to see. Our text shows how severely God reacted to the complainers by consuming them with a holy fire.
God is both merciful and just and at some point these people had crossed from His mercy and patience to the justice of His wrath. It was those on the "outskirts" who were consumed. There are always those who move to the outskirts of any congregation. These are the independent-minded who refuse to walk in lockstep with the rest of the group. In a flock, these are the sheep who stray to the edge of danger and who live farthest away from the guidance and protection of their shepherd.
Since sheep naturally follow each other, a sheep who continually strays presents an infectious problem. The shepherd will first break the wayward animalís leg, then treat and care for it in order to teach it to rely on him. If the sheep strays after itís nursed back to health, the shepherd has no choice but to kill it to prevent it from teaching other sheep to stray.
The Pastor alone is ordained to examine the flock, -"Know well the condition of your flocks." (Proverbs 27:23) "Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion" (1 Peter 5:2) "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the Church of God which He purchased with His own Blood." (Acts 20:28)
The members are commanded to esteem others as more important than themselves, -"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves." (Philippians 2:3)
To grumble against and complain against your brethren which the Lord gave His life to save, is not loving them but showing contempt and hatred toward them. It is the very opposite of "with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves." This attitude is self-righteous, arrogant and demonic.
Be very careful what you say and what your attitude is toward one of your brethren. Donít forget who they are. Jesus died for them while they were yet sinners. He loves them. Every saint is a forgiven child of the Living God and He is a protective Father. If one of them happens to offend, hurt or even sin against you, Jesus has commanded what you are to do. "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if he refuses to listen even to the Church, let him be to you as a unbeliever." (Matthew 18:15-17)
A grumbler and complainer will not practice this teaching, because he is motivated by hatred, not love. He is not interested restoring healthy relationships and fellowship, but to self-righteously point fingers, tear down and cause division in the Body.