Complaining: It’s what we like to do!

It’s easy to complain. Most of us are complainers…

Most of us probably don’t view ourselves as complainers… but that is part of the problem! We all want our voice to be heard. In fact I would say that part of this complaining epidemic spawns from the mindset that for some reason we deserve to have our voice heard.

Our nation is full of complainers. Our churches are full of complainers.

Many of us do well to make it to our cars in the parking lot before we have to voice a complaint or opinion about something on Sundays! How many of us have a running list?

What does your list look like?

Maybe like this: The music is too repetitious or doesn’t fit our preference, the sound system was too loud or soft, the pastor was long-winded or harsh, the baby that cried the whole service, maybe an annoying Brother or Sister in Christ?

I am guilty of this! Let’s ask ourselves… on Mondays do we remember anything about out Sunday service except our perceived negatives? Most of us if honest would have to say that we are masters in the art of complaining.

Why are we so quick to disregard the numerous positives about church, other believers, leadership, etc… in order to jump on the one or two negative aspects and complain?

Most of the time I think we would rather complain than actually work towards a solution to the problem.

You know what they call this? An armchair quarterback! Sporting events are full of armchair quarterbacks. An armchair quarterback is a person who offers advice or an opinion on something in which they have no expertise or involvement.

Is that us? Is this what we have become? Is the call of Christ on our lives merely just to complain? I think not.

It’s not that we really have it so rough, but rather that we don’t always have it our way.

I am convicted when I read verses like Philippians 2:14-15,

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

I have done my share of complaining over the years, and you probably have too.

James 5:9 says,

Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.

Criticizing and complaining is not a spiritual gift.

What other reasoning do we need to rid the spirit of complaint from our churches and ourselves? Judgment will be passed onto us for passing judgment on others! Below we will discuss some of the side-effects of our continuous complaints in hopes to bring to light how we are only making things harder for ourselves as commissioners of the Gospel.

  • Tears apart community.

Complaining is easy to do! It is easy to listen to! Complaining is a universal language! It is something we can all relate to!

The first major issue with complaint amongst believers is the fact that it damages and destroys relationships and the unity we all share in Christ. Ultimately, complaining damages relationships.

Colossians 3:12-14 says,

And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against another, just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Complaining encourages dissatisfaction, needlessly tears people down, and creates an unappreciative or unnecessary judgmental spirit within us.

Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-5,

Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye” and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye?

Let’s not be so quick to find the faults in every situation! God is still sitting on His throne even when the pastor aimlessly babbles for 15 minutes at the beginning of a service, or the worship leader doesn’t play that song that we like so much!

  • Draws our focus away from God’s goodness and promises.

How many times are we quick to forget all that we have been given by God? It’s funny how quickly the many blessings and provisions the Lord has blessed with us are forgotten with the perception of a single negative.

That is what our complaining does… it makes us quick to forget or to take for granted the goodness and blessings of God.

I immediately think about a time in Scripture when complaining and negativity shrouded out the goodness and promises of God. In Numbers the people of Israel are heading toward the Promised Land after they have been freed from the bondage of the Egyptians at the hand of Pharaoh in Exodus.

God has already provided greatly, and He tells them they will receive what they have been promised. But… when the Israelites hear that people in the last city that remains between them and their land are the size of giants, the people begin to grumble and complain and immediately forget God’s promise.

We see this in Number 14:1-4 when it says,

Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Despite God’s plan, promise, and His numerous provisions for them they allowed their complaining to lead them to appoint a new leader to go back against God. The Israelites allowed their negativity to outshine Christ!

How often do we fall victim to this mentality? How often do we allow our complaints, rants, negativity, and “soap-boxes” to become our leaders?

We see in the following passages in Numbers how God reacted to His people when this attitude arose.

Numbers 14:26-35 says,

And the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “How long shall this wicked congregation grumble against me? I have heard the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against me. Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord, what you have said in my hearing I will do to you: your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness, and of all your number, listed in the census from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against me, not one shall come into the land where I swore that I would make you dwell, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected. But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’ I, the Lord, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.”

Geez! These are often the passages that we like to overlook or attribute to an Old Testament God in comparison to our perceived New Testament Christ. I hate to break it to you… but God doesn’t change. He is the same today as He was in the days of Moses and the Exodus.

God didn’t appreciate the complaints. What I find interesting is that the people weren’t necessarily complaining intentionally against God Himself, but rather their complaints seemed to be directed towards their situation. But in reality, God has ordained or days and a complaint against a situation is in actuality a complaint against God Himself.

Let’s think about it… what do we complain about?

What is our wilderness? What is our giant that we must face?

God has a calling for our life and sometimes that may mean experiencing things that we don’t understand or enjoy. We mustn’t “cheapen” the experience by complaining. Instead we must trust.

The promises and provisions of God that we see are only the tip of the iceberg! God has sheltered us and provided for us numerous times without our knowing it!

  • Consumes valuable time!

Complaining takes a lot of time and energy when we really think about it!

We should take a second to step back and ask ourselves: What good does my complaining do?

I’ve heard it said that, “As Christians, we are called to be the problem solvers, not the problem proclaimers.”

Sure, there are always going to be situations that frankly just stink. We live in a fallen world and we are a fallen creation. But, in the end, is any situation that we are going to face bigger than God? Obviously not. So we do we think our complaining is going to accomplish anything at all? It is a waste of time!

I immediately think of people in the customer service field. Anybody that has worked in this field is going to immediately understand or relate to this example. How about when a person experiences a problem with a product and calls the appropriate services to troubleshoot the problem and instead of taking the advice of the expert they would rather complain about the issue at hand instead of listening and working alongside someone else to resolve the issue and make it better.

It can be so frustrating! And ultimately, the problem just takes that much longer to be resolved because someone needs to “vent” or voice their frustration in an unhelpful way.

We’re supposed to be the troubleshooters. Not the pessimist that is totally comfortable sitting in the midst of a problem or situation without ever attempting to make anything better.

As believers we are supposed to be the encouragers, the motivators, and the accomplishers.

However, I do believe it is important to clarify that we shouldn’t confuse our decision to not complain with a lack of authenticity. As believers we shouldn’t be scared to admit that our lives aren’t perfect! When it comes to our witness, we don’t want to seem so fake and falsely cheerful that we’re no longer relatable. There ought to be room for anger and disappointment within the church handled or vented in a Biblical way. Ephesians 4:29 says,

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

What I love about this verse is how it point out that even when we are let down we are still called to build up and speak grace to people around us. This points us in a God-honoring direction… it acknowledges the bad stuff, where we fall short, but it places emphasis on the positives and works to create an environment of improvement.

The Christian faith isn’t about putting on a fake smile or pretending everything is skippy. Instead, Scripture asks us to surrender our frustrations to a redemptive God.

When things don’t go like they should and we are at our wits end and frustrated beyond belief, we could post a rant on Facebook and complain to our friends, or we can ask God how He might use this shortcoming or situation to shape us and glorify Himself.

Are you a complaining Christian? Do you have such a critical spirit toward others that you hardly realize that you complain against your fellow Christians? Would those who know you best say you are infected with a complaining spirit?

We mustn’t allow complaint to become our way a way of thinking.

You never know… maybe revival would come to the church if we stopped complaining against each other and worked together in unity to further the Gospel and troubleshoot problems!

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