when we stop thanking, we start complaining

Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.

–Philippians 2:14-15

I read Philippians 2:14 with a friend in college about not grumbling or complaining.  We began discussing it and wondered what really constituted a complaint.  Is claiming to have a headache a complaint?  What about mentioning the temperature in the room is uncomfortably warm or cold?  Looking back it reminds me of the religious leader who asked Jesus “who is my neighbor?” when Jesus told the man to love his neighbor as himself.

As believers, we like to fit God’s standards into manageable feats.  Yet, God isn’t looking just to our outward behavior but to our heart.

So, when Paul instructs us to go about our days without griping and complaining, he understood the temptation.  Over the course of his life, he suffered false accusations, unwarranted imprisonment ,savage beatings,  shipwrecks and near drownings.  He preached and no one listened.  The churches he led failed.  His friends abandoned him.  Paul understood and had endless reasons to complain.  But Paul also understood that voicing complaints only aggravate a situation.

Voicing complaints is natural when we face adversity and sorrow.  We wish for different circumstances and we say so.  Yet, as believers in God, we aren’t called to natural, we are called to live set apart lives that look different.  Those who can control their tongue in the midst of affliction, stand out–not as heroes but as people of peace–children of God shining ‘like stars in the sky’.

Seeking to live through hardship without grumbling on your lips, means there has to be an alternative to the complaint in your heart.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says,

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

It’s okay to not like your present sistuation, but it doesn’t means you can’t find things to be thankful for.  So, you don’t like being sick and having to be in the hospital–totally get that.  But what about people who are sick who have no access to healthcare?  Aren’t you grateful you have a place to receive treatment?  Do you dislike your job because of the way your co-workers or boss treat you?  A legitimate complaint certainly.  But there are men and women who are struggling to feed their families, have enough money to pay the rent and are searching for a place of employment.  Thank God He has provided you with a means to meet your physical needs and a place where you can shine like star in a ‘warped and crooked generation.’

No one said you didn’t have reason to complain, not even God.  He understands–really He does.  But as a child of God, you are called to a heart of gratitude that produces peace in order that you might show off the character of God and honor Him.

Challenge: for the next seven days, write down five things each you are thankful for surrounding a difficult circumstance.

 

10 Comments

  1. Great post, Bobi Ann! I think it can be okay to say things like, “I have a headache,” “I feel cold in here, ” or ” I’m feeling overwhelmed today.” I think the reason behind why we say these things is important – and that we don’t repeat them over and over unnecessarily. I was told years ago (and am still in the process of learning) that sometimes we have to speak up so others understand why we act a certain way. If I have a migraine, I will interact differently with people than if I don’t. If I will tell my kids that I have a really bad headache, they will better understand my behavior. It also gives them an opportunity to learn to show compassion, as well as see that I have discomforts or struggles just like they do. They may be more comfortable talking to me when they face difficulties, too. Thank you for sharing, Bobi Ann. This was a great topic to address. I always love your posts.

  2. I just shared your post with a group in Facebook that has 8,964 members around the world. There was a post on there today about teaching children to be grateful. Maybe you’ll get some new followers. 🙂

  3. I loved reading this. Thankfulness for this life is something rare, at least around me. I really like the title when we stop thanking we start complaining.
    Positive living and appreciating the little things is what I strive to show and see around my little world. I miss you ladies!
    Thank you for the inspiration!

  4. Great post, Bobiann! This read was great timing and a great reminder for me! I am so very grateful for my job! Although my job can be difficult, trying, mundane and frustrating most of the time I am very grateful for it! I have the pleasure of shaping children and guiding them alongside their wonderful parents! So thank you for the reminder to be thankful and grateful!

  5. Thanks Bobi, Some time ago my wonderful husband referred to my “conversation” as complaining. I was surprised and said I was just stating facts. “I traffic is awful or HEB is so crowded”. I did not think of myself as a complainer because I am truly grateful but without realizing it what was coming out were complaints. Thank you Bobi for this article, it has clarified this issue for me.

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