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No one likes to be around a complainer!
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.”
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.
There’s something about gratitude that distinguishes people. Think about it: would you rather hang around with grumblers or grateful people?
The gratitude of Paul and Silas certainly made them stand out from the crowd when they were in Philippi. Wrongly accused, beaten, and thrown in prison, but instead of bellyaching, they were praising God. Later on, when Paul wrote his letter to the Christians in Philippi, the theme of gratefulness permeates his letter.
The distinguishing mark is actually in the title: The GReat ATTITUDE spells out GRATITUDE!
Join us this Sunday as we launch a series of messages perfectly timed for this season of Thanksgiving where we’ll be learning how great the attitude of gratitude truly is! We would love to have you join us in person, but you can also check out the messages at 10:30 each Sunday morning on Facebook and YouTube.
If you’ve missed any of the messagesin this series, check them out here:
“…May we also unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him—To pardon our national and other transgressions, To enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, To render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, To protect and guide all nations and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord, To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science, And generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.” —George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789
“Let your soul lose itself in wonder, for wonder is in this way a very practical emotion. Holy wonder will lead you to grateful worship and heartfelt thanksgiving. It will cause within you godly watchfulness; you will be afraid to sin against such a love as this.” —C.H. Spurgeon
“As flowers carry dewdrops trembling on the edge of the petals, and ready to fall at the first waft of wind or brush of bird, so the heart should carry its beaded works of thanksgiving, and, at the first breath of heavenly flavor, let down the shower perfumed with the heart’s gratitude.” —Henry Ward Beecher
“Thanksgiving will draw our hearts toward God and keep us in fellowship with Him; it will take our attention from ourselves and give the Spirit room in our hearts.” —Andrew Murray
“If we pray without ceasing, we shall not want matter for thanksgiving in everything. We shall see cause to give thanks for sparing and preventing, for common and uncommon, past and present, temporal and spiritual mercies. Not only for prosperous and pleasing, but also for afflicting providences, for chastisements and corrections; for God designs all for our good, though we at present see not how they tend to it.” —Matthew Henry
“Blessed is that home which has in it an altar of sacrifice and of prayer, where daily thanksgivings ascend to heaven and where morning and night praying is done.” —E.M. Bounds
“Not to lose myself and reader in this digression, the sum is, the unspeakable blessings which the priesthood of Christ hath obtained for us are a strong obligation for the duty of praise and thanksgiving; of which that in some measure we may discharge ourselves, He hath furnished us with sacrifices of that kind to be offered unto God.” —John Owen
“Gratitude is from the same root word as ‘grace,’ which signifies the free and boundless mercy of God. Thanksgiving is from the same root word as ‘think,’ so that to think is to thank.” —Willis P. King
I just finished a series of messages at Calvary Assembly of God called Fading Gratitude. It was intended to give some practical thoughts that would stimulate our continual gratitude—not just thankfulness on a day called Thanksgiving.
Sarah Young does a masterful job speaking the words of Scripture as though it were Jesus speaking first-person to us. This word is so appropriate on the heels of this series and on the eve of our Thanksgiving celebration.
“I want you to linger in gratitude. This is a most delightful place—where the joy of My presence shines warmly upon you.
“You often and pray fervently for something until you receive the answer you desire. When I grant your request, you respond joyfully and thankfully. But your tendency is to move on rather quickly to the next matter. I want you to remain for a while in an attitude of grateful joy. Instead of experiencing only a short-lived burst of gratitude, let this pleasure flow freely into the future by training yourself to recall what I have done. One way is to tell others about it. This blesses both them and you, and it pleases Me. Another way is to write down the prayer-answer someplace where you will see it again and again.
“Keep bringing your gratitude to Me. This thankfulness will bless you doubly—with happy memories of answered prayer and with the delight of sharing enjoy it with Me.” —Jesus (in Sarah Young’s Jesus Always, emphasis mine)
Looking back at the history of God’s people in the Bible, there is a distinct up-and-down cycle. The Israelites would be worshiping God and enjoying His blessings, and then we see them turning their back on God and needing Him to rescue them from oppressors. After God rescues them the people praise Him, only to slip right back into the same downward slide again.
I believe their slipping away from God can be directly linked to their forgetfulness.
If any of us allows our gratitude for all of God’s blessings to fade, we will experience the same slipping away.
However, there is good news! If there is a peril in our forgetfulness, there is also a power in our thankfulness!
Lepers were outcasts in society. Unable to participate in normal daily activities, unable to go to the temple to worship God, even unable to be with their family. These ten lepers encountered Jesus and did two positive things. But 9-of-10 lepers also did two sad things.
(+) They knew to call on Jesus for help—“Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
(+) They took Jesus at His word. Their healing happened astheyobeyed Christ’s words—“‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And astheywent, they were cleansed.”
(-)Only one cleansed leper came back to praise God for his healing.
(-)Only one was pronounced “well” by Jesus. All ten lepers were “cleansed,” which simply meant they were ceremonially clean and could once again participate in daily life and temple worship. But only one was made completely “well.” The Greek word is sozo, which means saved from eternal destruction. The same word is used to describe what Jesus came to do for us: “You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save [sozo] His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
“What a rare thing is thankfulness.… ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?’ The lesson before us is humbling, heart-searching, and deeply instructive. The best of us are far too like the nine lepers. We are more ready to pray than to praise, and more disposed to ask God for what we have not, than to thank Him for what we have. … If we would be anxious for nothing, we must make our requests known to God not only with prayer and supplication, but with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6).” —J.C. Ryle (emphasis mine)
Probably all of us experience daily blessings from our good God, yet many of us never acknowledge Him as the Source of those blessings. We just accept the blessing and then keep on walking.
Let’s be the 1-in-10!
Let’s be quick to recognize God’s blessings. Let’s always remember that He does more than give us strength for today, but He saves [sozo] us entirely from eternal destruction. Let’s be the ones who always return—day after day after day—to give glory to God!
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! … Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:4, 6).
Paul isn’t playing around here—when he says to rejoice, it’s not a suggestion or a good idea. He says REJOICE with the force of a commandment!
Even the Greek word for rejoice isn’t a mild “yea!” It carries with is the idea of big joy! It’s the kind of rejoicing that is…
Why would Paul make this kind of rejoicing a command? Because God is serious about pointing us to the only path that will guard our hearts and minds. When we are rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving, then the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).
Do you realize how much of our worrying is pointless? My friend Scott pointed out the following research:
40% of the things we worry about will never even happen
30% of the things we worry about happened in the past and cannot be changed
12% of our worries are regarding health issues we don’t even have
10% of our worries are about our friends and loved ones which are based on rumors
That means … only 8% of the things we worry about have any basis in reality!
Think about that—9 out of 10 things that consume our minds with worry aren’t even worth our time!
That’s why Paul commands rejoicing as a means to freedom and peace.
What should we worry about? Nothing!
What should we pray about? Everything!
What should rejoice about? All things!
This is the one and only path to transcendent peace!
This is part two in our series The Antidote For Anxiety. Be sure to check out the video below, and also check out the first part of this series—Honk! Honk! Honk!