Do you know someone who grumbles, gripes, and complains every single day? Maybe, that someone is who we see when we look in the mirror… ouch! Why do we complain? In some instances, it is to simply make others aware of our condition/circumstances in order that we might gain help. For example, let’s say I was at the dentist and he started drilling on my tooth. Let’s say that my mouth was not numb and the drill hit a nerve. Would it be wrong or as if I were a complainer to let the dentist know? Of course not. In such a case, it would not be sinful or done in an ungrateful, griping, complaining manner; it would simply be to make one aware of a problem so that it may be remedied. However, there is another type of complaining that I am referencing which is known as murmuring.
Murmuring is defined as, “A low confused, indistinct sound; much like that of running water. It is to utter complaints in a low, half-articulated voice; to feel or express dissatisfaction or discontent; to grumble; — often with at or against.” In other words, to murmur is to complain in a negative, grumbling manner. Many times, people in scripture were reprimanded for murmuring – particularly about God’s rules. Much of the problem with murmuring is the attitude by which it is done.
I’ve heard it said, “Some people complain because God puts thorns on roses, while others praise Him for putting roses among thorns.” By this, we know that our attitude is important. What we dwell on is usually what comes out of our mouths. If we dwell on the bad – we are likely to speak negatively. However, if we dwell on the good we are likely to speak in a way that can be more uplifting and pleasant. Scripture gives us important instructions on this very topic. “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” Philippians 4:8.
Also, let us remember Matthew 12:34 which says, “…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Whatever is abundant in your heart will be brought out in your words. If your heart if full of ungratefulness, then it is likely that you will be a complainer. If your heart if full of gratitude towards God, then it is likely that you will guard your words more carefully. In fact, one of the strongest scriptures about our words we speak is found in James 1:26. It states, “If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself.” Wait… what?! Did we just scan that verse or did we really read it? Let’s really understand this. Because if this scripture is read slowly and thoughtfully, then we will probably all feel some extent of conviction. But, this conviction is good if it drives us to be more like Christ. A prime example of Christ displaying discipline over the tongue is when He was being led to be crucified. “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth” Isaiah 53:7.
Christ did not complain, though He was being led like a lamb to the slaughter; yet, we complain over such lesser matters. Shame on us. Our prayer should be, “Lord, make us more like You.” Again, I am not insinuating that life is always easy, happy, and grand – but even in Christ’s hardest moment, He held His peace. Certainly, we could take this as a lesson.
Complaining Does No Good
The late author, Randy Pausch, once said, “If you took one-tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you’d be surprised by how well things can work out… Complaining does not work as a strategy. We all have finite time and energy. Any time we spend whining is unlikely to help us achieve our goals. And it won’t make us happier.”
People who constantly complain are perceived as negative, shallow, and ungrateful… maybe they are. Nonetheless, perhaps it would be best if we kept trivial complaints to ourselves. It’s true – it gets tiresome for both the complainer and the one who has to hear it. There are times when silence is best. In fact, Ecclesiastes 3:7 says that there is a season for all things – “… a time to keep silence, and a time to speak.” Oftentimes, it is best to ponder things in your heart and let your requests be made known unto God rather than broadcast it to the world.
Someone once said, “To him who recollects that he has deserved hell, all pain and suffering are light.” Thank God that we (Christians) have been saved! Thank God that it is a free gift open to all mankind! With this thought in mind, how dare we be ungrateful complainers! And in the times of hardship, let us do as scripture says and “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” 2nd Timothy 2:3.
Bear in mind, this type of “positivity” is a far cry from the new age, self-help guru who is sickeningly bubbly and fake. This type of positive outlook has nothing to do with something we conjure up but everything to do with the light of God which is inside of us. Being positive also doesn’t mean that we are always smiling ear-to-ear and laughing as we skip along; but it is more of a deep stability within our soul that refuses to let external circumstances diminish our view of our mighty God and our promise of eternity. In fact, it is healthy to weep at times or even be grieved or disappointed. The Holy Spirit can be grieved and Jesus wept while on earth; we are not stronger than our Lord. We will have ups and downs in this life. And, there is no sin in seeking a Godly friend, relative, or counselor to talk to in order that we might get some insight and prayers for our problems. But, through it all – we remain stable in our walk with God and refuse to be ungrateful grumblers and complainers.
Lord, help us all as we enter this new year to remember that Your mercies are new every morning. Let us be a light in this dark world that we may be encouragers and not bring discouragement to others. Empower us to guard our words and our attitudes. We ask in Jesus’ name… amen.