I complain way too much, and if you are like me, you complain way too much as well. We complain about the weather, politics, our jobs, and anything else that doesn’t go our way. Unfortunately, we also complain way too much about the church. We complain when we don’t like the music, when the preaching goes too long, or when the church isn’t moving in the direction we think it should. We often aren’t aware of how much division our complaining causes.
The Bible is not silent about complaining. Philippians 2:14 states: “Do everything without complaining and arguing…” (NLT) Is that even possible? Let me give you a few reasons why complaining is so dangerous.
(1) Complaining is evidence of an ungrateful heart.
With every complaint you’re essentially saying, “I deserve better.” “I deserve for the weather to be just like I want it. I deserve for things to work out exactly like I plan at my job. I deserve for my church to be just like I want it to be.” The reality is that the only thing you deserve is eternal separation from God because of your sin. Anything good you receive is a result of God’s grace. The warm sunshine that’s brightening your day today is a gift of God’s grace. The job that you complain about all the time that helps you provide for your family is a gift of God’s grace. Ultimately, God has given you the greatest gift of all; forgiveness of your sins and eternity with Him through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. You really have nothing to complain about because in Christ you’ve been given more than you will ever deserve. When you complain, you are showing that you are ungrateful for all that God has given you. And on top of that, your complaining accomplishes nothing of eternal value.
(2) Complaining hinders the mission of God.
As Christ-followers we believe that Jesus and Jesus alone satisfies our every need. How is a lost world going to believe that Jesus alone satisfies when we as Christians complain so much? When we complain we are showing other people through our complaining that Jesus does not satisfy us. Instead, we are showing others that we are satisfied only when we get what we want. Complaining absolutely hinders the mission of God.
If anyone had a right to complain it was Jesus. He was treated unfairly, abandoned by His disciples, and subjected to a death that He did not deserve. Yet, from the cross, He didn’t look down and say, “Where are my disciples? What a bunch of losers.” Nor did He cry out to the Father and say, “Father, I don’t deserve this. What are you thinking?” If Jesus had complained on His way to the cross He would have died begrudgingly and not willingly. If He would have complained, we would be left to wonder if He really loves us. For the sake of the mission, He didn’t complain one time, and in perfect humility He went to the cross so that we could be saved from our sins.
Now, if the One who had every right to complain did not complain, do you think you have the right to complain about anything? Complaining is one of the most selfish things you can do. Complaining is not life giving. Rather, complaining sucks the life out of people. Complaining really does hinder the mission of God because complaining puts the focus on your selfish agenda rather than on the expansion of God’s Kingdom.
(3) Complaining stunts your spiritual growth.
We all want to grow spiritually; at least we say we do. Complaining is not the way to spiritual growth. Complaining is the way to spiritual regression. The more you complain the more you are giving evidence of a spirit of pride and selfishness. The more you complain the more you are demonstrating that you desire to be on the throne of your life calling the shots rather than desiring God to be on the throne of your life. You simply cannot grow in Christ when your life is focused on what you think you deserve. As long as you have a complaining and critical spirit you’ll be stuck in spiritual immaturity.
So, here’s the question. How can you crucify your complaining ways?
(1) Repent. Repentance is the only place to start. Ask God to forgive you of thinking you deserve anything more than what He determines to give you. Ask God to forgive you of a self-centered, self-serving attitude.
(2) Use much restraint. Proverbs 17:27 says: “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” I’m learning that in most situations it is best to keep my mouth shut. Even in those situations when I am wronged it is often best for me to simply stay silent because the less I speak the less likely I am to sin with my mouth. This is probably why James said in James 1:19, “Let every person be quick to hear and slow to speak.”
(3) Count your blessings. Even if you are in the worst of circumstances right now, you are blessed. If you have the ability to read these words right now, you are blessed. If you have breath in your lungs you are blessed. How would your life be different if you focused on all the good God has done in your life rather than all the negativity you tend to focus on?
(4) Realize that your way is not the best way. You often complain because you don’t get your way, and you think your way is the best way. However, your way is not the best way. Ultimately, only God knows what is best. In every situation you can trust that He knows what He is doing.
(5) Learn to praise God for His creativity. You often complain because people are different than you. “I don’t like him because he doesn’t do things the way I would do them.” Or, “I don’t like the pastor because he doesn’t tell enough jokes.” The list goes on and on. Thankfully, God didn’t make everyone like you. Instead, He made every person in His own image for His own purpose. Instead of complaining when people don’t do things the way you want them to, learn to praise God for His creativity. Praise God that He made us different and He uses our unique personalities and abilities to accomplish His purpose.
I really don’t want to complain as much as I do. I’m intentionally asking God to help me to put my complaining to rest. Will you join me in asking God to help you to get your complaining ways under the control of His Spirit?