Complainers, ironically, find things wrong everywhere else but with themselves. Complainers know how everyone else should raise their kids, run their businesses, operate their government, lead their sports teams to victory, but they seldom apply their so-called wisdom to their own lives. Complainers find the one thing that’s wrong in an otherwise perfect situation.
Complaining is easy because it comes so naturally. What do I mean by that? Take a look at the magazine covers at your grocery store—do they have good news or complaints? Take a look at the lead news stories—are they celebrations or complaints? Those magazines want to sell copies. Those news stations want viewers. Those websites want clicks. They wouldn’t promote the complaints if they didn’t get them the attention (and the advertising revenue) they desire!
Let me see a show of hands on this: How many of you want to be around complainers?
I noticed no one raised their hand, so I need to ask a follow-up question: Why do you complain? If you don’t like to be around a complainer, why do you do what others obviously don’t like either?
I think we complain because we think our situation is unique—no one has experienced anything quite like what we’re going through. We often make a list to “prove” to everyone that we have earned the right to complain. This is what Job did. Check out his list in Job 7:1-11, and then notice his conclusion where he says, “Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.”
But we need to be careful because the Bible makes it clear that complainers make God angry (see Numbers 11:1; 1 Corinthians 10:10-11). Why? I think there are two reasons.
First, I think God gets angry about complaints because of how quickly they spread to everyone around them—like cancer cells they destroy the whole body.
Second, complainers take everyone’s eyes off God and point their attention to the lousy situation about which they are complaining.
On the other hand, grateful people stand out because they can find the one thing worthwhile in an otherwise lousy situation. Being a grateful person takes discipline to overcome the downward pull of everyone else’s complaints.
Paul wrote a letter to the church at Philippi that is bursting with thankfulness! We only have to get three verses in when he says, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Philippians 1:3).
Paul stood out because of his great attitude of gratitude. Consider what happened the very first time he visited the city of Philippi. He and Silas were wrongly accused, beaten, and locked in prison. Paul didn’t start a petition, he didn’t give the jailer a bad review on Yelp, he didn’t organize a rally, he didn’t call the Roman governor. Instead, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God while the other prisoners listened in (Acts 16:16-25).
In a lousy, unfair, dark situation, Gratitude says, “God is still God, and He is still worthy of abundant praise!”
So in the middle of his letter to the Philippians, Paul instructs these Christians to: Do all things without murmurings and disputings (Philippians 2:14 KJV). Murmurings are the vocalizing of the faults we have found. Disputings, though, are internal. In the Greek, this word almost always refers to complaining and grumbling thoughts, and many times it’s translated as “evil thoughts.”
When the complaining comes out of our mouths, that is just the ugly weed. The root of that complaint is in our hearts. We don’t need a vocabulary change, we need a heart change.
When we praise God, we magnify Him. That doesn’t make God bigger because He is infinite. But it does put a “telescope” on Him. Telescopes bypass everything that is close by and focus on something majestic. Our praise—like Paul and Silas’ song from prison—invites others to look through our telescope to see the God we are magnifying.
Gratitude can start with one person, and then it can spread. Gratitude can counteract the cancerous complaints. Will you be that one grateful person at this Thanksgiving season and beyond? Will you be the one that says, “No matter what, God is still God, and He is still worthy of abundant praise”? Will you be that one that sings praise at the exact moment everyone else expects complaints? If you do, your gratitude will entice others to want to worship this all-good God too!
Follow along with all of the messages in our series called The Great Attitude Of Gratitude by clicking here.
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