Hello, friends! It’s May, which means a busy month if you’ve got a graduation or end-of-the-school-year festivities, plus there’s Mother’s Day and Memorial Day! I hope you find something good to celebrate this month.
Before we get into today’s post, let me remind you that, as is often the case, I write from a place of weakness. I usually share what I’ve been studying or something that I need to work on in my own life. So as we break down complaining today, please don’t think that I’ve mastered this. I’m a work in progress!
Here’s the passage I was studying last week that led to today’s post.
Do all things without murmurings and disputings:
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain. ~Philippians 2:14-16
Verse 14 basically tells us that we’re to do everything without complaining or arguing. We can look at that in a couple of different ways.
It could apply to how we respond to God. Whatever instruction we find in His Word or whatever we believe His Holy Spirit is leading us to do, we should do cheerfully and without hesitation.
It could also apply to how we respond to our circumstances and to other people. Are we often complaining about what’s happening in our lives and/or quarreling with someone any time we don’t agree with them?
That verse pointedly says, “Do all things…” Yes, we know that “all” means “all,” as in every single thing.
But let’s get practical. Does that mean I’m supposed to stand in the checkout line at the store (which I chose because it looked like the shortest one, but now the other lines are moving much faster) and not complain about how long this is taking? I would say “Yes.”
The reason that I titled this post the way I did is because I think we just accept complaining as a natural part of life. Doesn’t everybody complain? Or maybe it’s just me!
Complaining usually boils down to discontentment. It’s an attitude of the heart. And isn’t all complaining ultimately against God?
So let’s answer these questions. Is complaining really that bad? Why is it important that we not complain, that we’re not argumentative? Verses 15 and 16 answer that question for us.
1. We’re to be blameless/innocent.
We want our thoughts to be pleasing to God. Our inner attitudes need to be right so that our outward actions will also be right.
2. We’re to be harmless/inoffensive.
We want to live a life before others that is pure and sincere. We don’t want to purposely annoy or insult someone.
There may be times when we speak the truth in love and that truth is offensive to an unbeliever. But that’s not our purpose or goal.
3. We’re to be a testimony by what we say and how we live.
Paul encourages us to “shine as lights in the world.” The example we show in daily living should be one that stands out in a good way. Our sweet spirit and grateful heart can reflect a peace and joy that others notice.
4. We’re to share the gospel.
We’re also to be “holding forth the word of life.“
Who wants to hear what you have to say about a Savior when you’re constantly complaining about work or your spouse or your kids? If the smallest thing sets you off and you immediately start to argue, is that unsaved observer going to want the faith that you say you have?
If we agree that complaining is wrong, then we need a solution to the problem.
Let’s change our complaining into gratitude. Do you remember another verse that has a similar phrase to “all things” in it?
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. ~1 Thessalonians 5:18
Just as we’re to do all things without complaining and arguing, we’re also to give thanks in everything.
So here’s a challenge to myself, and maybe you’ll take it as well. The next time we start to complain, let’s change that thought and those words into something we can be thankful for. Instead of complaining, make the effort to look for what’s good in that moment.
As E.M. Bounds said, “Gratitude and murmuring never abide in the same heart at the same time.“
With God’s help, we can complain less (or not at all!) and be grateful more.
- 3 Tips for a Better Attitude Today
- You Can’t Do Both at the Same Time
- 10 Key Lessons the Israelites Can Teach Us About the Christian Life