Complain! Complain! Complain! Most of us do it a lot. Oh, we might not call it complaining. We think we are just venting, sharing, or my personal favorite, “stating the facts”. But every time we express dissatisfaction with people and circumstances by grumbling, criticizing, and finding all that is wrong, we are complaining! Some people complain about everything while others are more sporadic, but most casual conversation is filled with complaints, ranging from how sick or tired we are, to allergies and maladies, to lack of money, to frustration at work or school, and to our irritation with the economy, weather, government or with each other. Once the Lord started speaking to me about complaining and how it makes Him feel when His children complain, I started listening to my own speech and am surprised to “hear” how much I complain.
And lest we think as long as we don’t complain “out loud” we are good to go, be warned; silent complaining “in our head” is just as destructive. If our thought life is full of complaints, with all that is wrong, with frustration and negativity, it is no less damaging to our lives in Christ than if we were to vocalize it. This is why God says we are given weapons of warfare. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds…” (2 Corinthians 10:4) Pulling down strongholds are mindsets which are contrary to God. Then He continues in verse 5 “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” Negative, ungodly thoughts (complaints) lead us into temptation, sin, and rebellion. We must take note of two things: First, it is warfare we are dealing with – we must think ourselves in a war against complaining, meaning it is hard work. Second, we get to “bring” negative thoughts into obedience. Christ will take care of the rest.
We can get so comfortable with complaining we do it even when something good happens. “Yes! We are moving into our new home next week. It’s about time we got out of that living hell we’ve been in!” “I love the nice weather! Finally! But we better enjoy it now because it won’t last long.” “Thankfully it stopped raining and we got our garden in. Too bad we won’t get a good harvest because of the late start.” “I’m excited about our camping trip but not thrilled about all the work before we leave.” “I finished lots of projects today but I’ll pay for it tomorrow with a sore body.” “I love this beautiful spring weather but these allergies are kicking my butt.” “I finally went to the doctor and found out there is nothing wrong with me. Yeah! But that was only after waiting two hours and going through all their stupid tests.” We could call this “Speaking a curse over the blessing” or “Negating the good by pointing out the bad”. But it all equates to the same thing – Complaining!
In fact, complaining is so natural, even most Christians freely take part without giving a thought to God or His feelings. For example we know God provides our needs yet we complain about lack. God gives jobs but we complain about the hours, the work, the lack of benefits, or how tired we are. God is our Healer but we complain about our aches and pains. God gives us church but we complain about the imperfect people, the messages or music, how long the service is, lack of programs and ministries for us, or a multitude of other things. Jesus is Lord over all the earth yet we complain incessantly about the weather being too hot, too cold, too windy, too dry, too humid, too anything. When we have the “perfect” day, we complain it always happens during the week instead of the weekend. And we complain about each other way too much! It seems there is always SOMETHING to complain about.
If we combat negativity with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, Christians only get more exasperated and defensive, accusing the messenger of being insensitive, uncaring and not compassionate. After all, they “know” the Word as well, but would like others to validate their feelings and agree, support, and empathize with them. Their response in this scenario is “Yes, I know….but….”
“Yes, I know God is always with me and never leaves or forsakes me but I feel so alone.” “Yes, I know God is my Healer but He gives medicine and doctors as tools to help bring healing too.” “Yes, I know God is my Provider but I still don’t make enough money to cover my bills.” “Yes, I know God has plans to prosper and not harm me but life is hard and I don’t even know what my plans are.” “Yes, I know God has blessed us with children but I am exhausted because they are so demanding and awake all night.” “Yes, I know God has blessed me with a loving spouse but marriage is so hard.” “Yes, I know God gave me this job but the hours and work are just too much for me.” “Yes, I know I should use my gifts at church but I don’t have the time and energy to do what ‘they’ want us to do.” Without even being aware of it, this kind of talking creates a complaining lifestyle by which we continually express our dissatisfaction with God and His care. Thank You God, but….
To be perfectly honest, a “complaining Christian” is an oxymoron because there is no way to follow Christ fully (a Christian by definition is a follower of Christ) while complaining nonstop. Nor can we justify complaining if we take God at His Word. Philippians 2:14 “Do all things without complaining and disputing…” “All” is inclusive! And as Christians when we complain about anything it equates to complaining about God! He is the One who creates, gives, and maintains life in and for us therefore the more we complain, the more we are expressing our dissatisfaction with God along with His provision, guidance, and Lordship. Complaints simply do not reflect Christ in us, but instead reflect our displeasure, unhappiness, or disappointment in life, the one we supposedly live in Him!
However, if we were to do all things without complaining we would reflect Christ quite nicely. Philippians 2:15-16“…that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” What excites me most about this is the possibility and reality of living blameless and harmless in the midst of a crooked, perverse, complaining world! Think about shining as lights in the world! That means we must be different, set apart, and without fault to shine in this darkness. If we do what this crooked and perverse generation does, how can we shine? The danger of not shining because we complain should motivate us to eliminate negative, faithless speech from our vocabulary. If we are not shining like stars (as some translations read) we need only back up to discover we have not become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault BECAUSE we have not done ALL things without complaining and disputing.
We shine by holding fast the word of life, clinging to His Word, refusing to let it go because we have taken a firm grip to Him. It means we will not and cannot be moved by the things of this world, the very things which most of us complain about. Instead we hold fast to His life, and let the word of life take root in our hearts where there is no room for complaining. This “word of life” in Greek translates “logos zoe”. In this context, “logos” means the word of God, literally faith words which contain true life and impart that life to us. And “zoe” means a true, genuine, active, and vigorous life in Christ. When we hold fast to the logos zoe, we will be live completely sold out and devoted to God, trusting Him completely, therefore complaining about nothing. If instead we choose to hold fast to the word of this life, speaking realities, venting, and complaining we will not only waste time and energy, but we become exhausted and wear other people out with our complaining as well, because there is no real life outside of zoe. By our complaining, we effectively destroy hope and make our hearts sick. A sick heart then continues to complain in hopelessness. Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.”
It is quite apparent true life is the result of hoped for desires coming into fruition. But where are those desires to come from? From holding fast to His logos zoe which creates more hope to see His Word flourish like a tree of life! And not only does life come from His Word, but faith comes as well, which creates more life, more faith, more hope, more desire, and then more life again. Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Since our speech reflects the contents of our heart and mind, if we hold fast to His words of life we will speak the oracles of God. If we hold fast to complaints we will speak the oracles of a crooked and perverse generation. Luke 6:45 “…For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”
So what are you hearing these days? Out of your own mouth? Out of the mouths of others? Complain! Complain! Complain! Or the Word! The Word! The Word! We can hold fast to His words of life or hold fast to our words of complaint. The choice is ours and so are the consequences. Logos zoe reproduces life. Complaining produces death.
Father, we confess to you that we find fault in many things in this world. We confess we often let those faults fester in our thoughts and hearts, and then perpetuate those faults in our lives and in others through complaining. Forgive us Lord! Forgive us for excusing and rationalizing our complaining lifestyles. Let us step out of this deception and into Your truth. We want to hold fast to Your logos zoe! And we thank You that we can because You help us! And let our prayer be the same as David’s in Psalm 19:14 “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen!