We may know it by different names,--such as griping, grumbling, whining, belly-aching, or murmuring. But regardless of the word used to describe it, complaining always has the same symptoms. The dictionary defines it as “an expression of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, or discontent. Complaining is the outward expression of discontent from within.
Complaining is a bad attitude expressed in grumbling. Complaining keeps us constantly on our own minds. We become so engrossed in our own suffering that, in a sense, we become selfish and have an overly demanding concern for ourselves. This excessive concern for ourselves pushes out the time and energy that we should be using to help others. Not that we do not care about other people, but we are just so burdened with our own problems and concerns that it takes away from the time and efforts that we should be using to help others. Until we remember that we are here on the earth to love others, to share with others and to encourage one another we will remain where we are, stuck thinking all about us, and unable to support others to the degree that God wants us to.
For me, keeping myself on my mind constantly makes me feel frustrated. I feel sorry for myself and I go off and have a little pity party. Don’t get me wrong, life is hard. I used to say, “Well if no one will feel sorry for me, I will feel sorry for myself”. But that line of thinking is detrimental to our progress to becoming a mature Christian. Because we are waiting on God to change us and our circumstances, we feel frustrated when we try to do God’s job, trying to fix our own lives ourselves, instead of putting our focus on other people, friends and family. As Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-38
“And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets”.
Why am I going in this direction? When we are constantly on our own mind it causes us to neglect our second greatest commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. And what does that have to do with complaining? What we think on turns into words. We think of ourselves and our problems, eventually we will express our distress in words and we will find ourselves complaining. It is dangerous to allow ourselves to constantly bring up problems and camp on top of them, allow one negative thought after negative thought to just burst out of our mouths. I know for me, I have to catch myself. I will start out just sharing a situation with a friend and then I start listening to my words and it feels and sounds like pure rottenness pouring out of my mouth. It’s so negative. I have to make myself shut up or redirect my conversation somewhere else. When I notice that my sharing has turned into a complaining session, I have to ask myself, “What is the purpose of my conversation with this person?” Am I requiring some others point of view, or do I need some advice? When I see that there really is no reason I am talking about what’s bothering me, except for the fact that I just need to vent, I look out of myself and try to sympathize with what my friend or family member are going through sitting there listening to me complain. If I feel that strongly about my own negative words, I can just imagine how it makes the person I am speaking to feel. I do not want the people I love to dread talking to me because I am always negative.
Focusing on the negative is power draining. Negative words also cause us to be in a bad mood, anxious and fearful. I am a firm believer that the longer we are persistently complaining the longer we get to stay in the situation that we are in. The Israelite s took 40 years to make an eleven day trip. Why? They murmured and complained about everything. They lost faith easily. God keep them in that situation for a very long time. As a matter of fact, out of all of the Israelite s that left Egypt, only two men that originally left Egypt crossed over the Jordan River. God was very sadden and displeased by their attitude and there complaining.
“Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and his anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.”(Numbers 11:1)
God actually killed the complainers. I know I do not want God to be angry with me. So my point is that, like the Israelite s who had to keep going around and around the same mountains, never making any progress toward the Promised Land, we too can get stuck going around our own stupid mountains.
Complaining is also evidence of unbelief. When we complain we are telling God “I do not trust you.” Until I started reading up o complaining, I did not realize how distasteful it is to God. That revelation caused me to repent, to turn around. Everyday Satan gives us something to grip about. It is up to us not to succumb to the temptation. Of course we cannot be successful on our own. But if we pray about it and do our part, and do what we can do, then God will do what we cannot do. Eventually we will make progress.
Instead of opening my mouth to complain, I open my mouth and say words like, “I believe that I will come out of my trial and tribulations ready and positioned for God’s greatness.” Or I will say, “I cannot see the answer, but God not only sees the answer, but he has a good plan in my life and a way out.”
I want all of you to try something. Try to go a whole day without complaining. I did it. It seemed to me that every time I went to open my mouth I wanted to complain. I did pretty good all day at work, but by the time I got home, I let the entire days worth of built up negative feelings pour of my mouth to my husband. The entire time I was complaining to my husband, I tried to stop, because in the back of my mind, I was saying “stop it”. What was interesting was that I could not stop. I continued until I had said all I could. That was a strong testimony to me. God opened my eyes that day, and I realized that I complained a whole lot more that I was aware of. So I pray every day for God to help me not to complain, and if I start to, have the Holy Spirit give me a reminder and point it out to me, so I can shut me mouth.
Philippians 2:14 says “Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining…” I just want to encourage you to take an inventory of yourself. Don’t say in your head, “well my friend or my spouse should really read this.” Let’s take a look at your own attitudes and you own behaviors. I know all of us can come up higher. Brothers and sisters, let us set our minds and make it a habit to speak positive today.
by Kristine Mulholland
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