Complaining: Our Attitude of Ingratitude

Read This: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world.” (Philippians 2:14-15)

Think: Complaining is like a second language. We all speak it fluently and sometimes don’t even notice when we’ve slipped into it. We complain about the weather, our jobs, traffic, the lines at the store, lack of parking, the cost of gas, the school system, and the list goes on. And even after all our grumbling, we don’t feel any better; we usually feel worse and so do the people around us. Negativity is highly contagious.

In the Old Testament, Israelites had a reputation for being whiners. God had rescued them from slavery and promised them a land of their own. He provided water when they were thirsty and manna from heaven when they were hungry. Still, wandering in the desert for forty years was no picnic and they grumbled about the hardships. In Numbers 11:1 we read that “when the people complained, it displeased the Lord. When the Lord heard it, his anger burned, and so the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outer parts of the camp.”

God takes our complaints seriously. And by that I don’t mean he’s filing them in a priority box to make our lives more comfortable. On the contrary, Jesus taught that “the good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart” (Luke 6:45). What we say reflects what’s in our hearts. Complaining, whining, and grumbling are rooted in an attitude of ingratitude.

On the flip side of that, people who voice their thankfulness for blessings big and small “shine as lights in the world.” We’ve all heard testimonies of people who have experienced great loss and suffering, yet they were able to praise God in the midst of it. If we really want to stand out in this world for the sake of the Gospel, we need to stop complaining and open our eyes to everything we’ve been given.

Ask: Pay close attention to what you talk with others. What kind of attitude is reflected in what you talk about? People love to complain about things together. How can you respectfully flip a conversation heading the wrong direction?

Pray: Getting our hearts in line with God’s is the first step to changing what comes out of our mouths. Spend some time with God confessing the areas in life that you tend to complain about and asking forgiveness for not being content with what you’ve been given.

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