January 25

What, Me Complain?

I Corinthians 10:6-10 Now these [Old Testament stories of the Israelites in the desert] became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them… Nor let us commit sexual immorality…. nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.

Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world….

Proverbs 19:10 says, “In a multitude of words sin is not lacking.” That’s because if we continue talking beyond a certain point, communication breaks down in value. We live in a world of far too much talk, and part of that breakdown is a fall into complaining.

From a purely natural (read carnal) point of view, complaining is fun. We get to push back against circumstances we don’t like, and that feels good. We also can get people to agree with us quickly when we complain, and that feels good, too.

But even looking at it from a purely efficient point of view, complaining is useless. It doesn’t change the circumstance we’re concerned with one bit. And it’s really not a good witness to others.

But far more than it’s being useless, it’s wrong. Philippians (above) is clear enough. But I Corinthians likens complaining to lusting after evil things, becoming idolaters, committing sexual immorality, and tempting Christ. It also says that because of these sins—including complaining—that the Israelites were destroyed.

Those are harsh words, and are rarely uttered in polite society. But it must be taken to heart that this is God’s perspective on complaining. And if we are disciples, we must face the issue of complaining in our lives, and work with the Lord to rid it from our mouths, and then our minds and hearts (it is a process, after all).

Why is such a little thing (we might say) such a big deal to God? For one, as the most Efficient One in the universe, God knows that we can’t complain and be listening to Him at the same time. When we complain, we are missing what God is trying to do and say in that circumstance. There are reasons why we face certain trials and difficulties, and complaining tells God that we resent His authority over us. Also, complaining to others isn’t loving them and building them up.

There is much more to this issue, of course, but the last thought here is that there is a place for expressing complaints, and that is to God. That’s not whining, of course, but opening and pouring our hearts out to Him. David learned how to do this, and Job did it as well. That’s where the concerns and thoughts and frustrations and heartaches that we now express as complaints need to go—to Him! So let’s close the complaint door to humans, and open the “pour out our hearts” door to God.

Prayer: Father, forgive me for all the complaining I’ve done and still do. Help me to understand how useless and wrong it is. Lead me to develop new habits of taking those thoughts and frustrations to You—and help me to listen to You when I’m finished.

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