If you’re like me, it’s easy to get caught up in voicing complaints in the culture we live in. Semi-trucks have bold signs posted on the back with a number to call in response to How’s My Driving? Some restaurants provide comment cards on the tables for customers to communicate feedback on the quality of food or service. Sitting in the back of a taxi a month ago, I noticed a sign displayed on the inside of the passenger door “For Complaints or Compliments call….”
If we were to be honest, most of us will take the time to report something negative that affects us. We’ll quickly pick up our cell phone to report the truck-driver who cut us off. We’ll complain if the taxi-driver arrives five minutes late. And we most certainly will fill up a comment card complaining that our server didn’t refill our drink enough or that our steak wasn’t cooked to perfection.
Taken to a more personal level, our complaints can be voiced against our loved ones. I’ll offer some of my own real-life examples to get you thinking of some of your own.
I’ve complained that my husband didn’t put his clothes in the hamper; didn’t put his shoes where they belong; or didn’t get exactly what I needed at the grocery store.
I’ve complained that my daughter didn’t straighten up her room; forgot to feed the pets; or left a mess in the kitchen.
Let’s take it to an even deeper level: Do we find ourselves voicing mainly complaints to God? Are our prayers filled only with urgent requests for Him to fix what we’re complaining about? Maybe some of the following resonate with you:
God, my husband isn’t helping the way I want him to. Can’t you do something about it?
God, my child isn’t obeying me and is getting on my nerves! What do you plan to do about this?
God, can’t you see that what’s happening to me is inconvenient, difficult and not making me happy!?
Please don’t misunderstand me here…I am not saying we shouldn’t go to God with our burdens and complaints because that’s exactly where we need to take them. But I am challenging us (myself included!) to ask ourselves if our prayers are characterized by complaints only or do we also take the time to thank and praise Him? Do we truly thank Him for the undeserved blessings in our life?
While it isn’t necessarily wrong for us to communicate concerns or expectations to our spouses, are we also pointing out the things they do right? Instead of merely complaining about the things I think my husband doesn’t do right, am I complimenting him on the things he does well? He’s a hard worker. He’s faithful to his family. He’s loving to his children. He’s patient with his wife and often overlooks my criticism!
And if we’re raising children to godly standards, then of course we are called to train and correct. But if all we do is point out the negatives without any encouragement and praise for what they are doing well, then we fall short of what God intends. Our children may make plenty of messes and forget to do their chores, but they are gifts from God we’re entrusted with. We should be their biggest cheerleaders!
Philippians 2:14 tells us to do all things without complaining. Really? All things? Read it again….it says all. But if you keep reading, there’s more to this than what might appear to be a harsh command. If you read on, it says we are not to complain about anything so that we may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation, shining among them like stars in the sky. What’s that really mean?
If we refrain from complaining, it causes us to conform more to the image of God. When we choose to praise and compliment instead of complaining and arguing, we will stand out in this world.
In a world where people have an entitlement mindset.
In a world where people are expected to complain.
In a world where people are all about self-gratification.
Yes, if we choose to stop complaining then others around us will notice. They will wonder why we didn’t react as most people would. Our lives will be like shining stars.
The rest of the verse says “as we hold firmly to the word of life.” And this is most certainly the key to this whole complaining problem. In my own strength apart from God, I can’t possibly refrain from complaining. My flesh is wired to complain. But when I hold firmly to God, He will empower me to do the opposite…..which is to compliment, encourage and praise! His spirit in me is wired to give all glory to God.
In what areas of your life do you find yourself complaining? Are you willing to take them to the foot of the cross and see what God has to say about them? Will you ask Him to help you re-direct your negative thoughts into intentional prayers that praise and glorify Him?
Philippians 2:14-16 “Do everything without complaining 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 as you hold firmly to the word of life.”
Blessings to you!