Every one of us, at one time or another, has complained about something or someone. We are all imperfect people living in an imperfect world full of things that can upset or annoy us! Our feelings may be those of dissatisfaction, fault finding, or grumbling about another person, circumstance, or experience. Sometimes we express those feelings verbally. If a child of God truly believes that the Lord is in control of their life and is overruling all of their experiences for good, that belief should greatly impact their response and attitude in any given situation.
Probably the most notable example of constant complainers in the Old Testament was the nation of Israel. Their legitimate cries and complaints, while slaves in Egypt, were heard by God and he delivered them from bondage. It was not long after, however, that a pattern of murmuring and complaining ensued in their journey to the Promised Land. They complained against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. They complained they were thirsty and God gave them water. They complained they were hungry and God provided manna that they soon wearied of. When God provided quail they eventually grumbled about that too, longing for the garlic and leeks in Egypt. And the list goes on! No matter the provisions, they were unthankful and dissatisfied. They failed to trust God’s leadings, and failed to thank him for the wonderful provisions he was making every step of the way. Their focus was on what they didn’t have when it should have been on all that God had blessed them with. As children of Abraham, they failed to appreciate the very privileged relationship they had with God.
The shortcomings they displayed are valuable for us to learn from. In I Cor. 10:1-11, Paul mentions Israel’s grumbling disposition, and explains that “with most of them God was not well pleased.” More importantly, Paul reminds Christians that “these things happened to them as an example, and that they were written for our instruction.” Paul wanted us to learn from their mistakes!
“Do all you have to do without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and harmless, faultless children of God, living in a warped and diseased age, and shining like lights in a dark world.” (Phil. 2:14-15) These verses tell us that non-complainers are a wonderful witness to those around them.
“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means…and how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret…I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Phil. 4:11-13) Non-complainers are truly thankful for all that the Lord has given them.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.” (Psa. 19:14) “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45) Non-complainers guard their hearts to prevent complaints from slipping from their lips.
“All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28) Non-complainers patiently wait for God’s direction and overruling in their experiences.
If treated unfairly or unjustly, non-complainers count it as an opportunity to “suffer for righteousness’ sake” and “generously make allowances for each other because they love each other.” (Matt. 5:10, Eph. 4:3)
As followers of Jesus, if our hearts are pure, and we strive to have an “attitude of gratitude,” our complaints will be few, and the Lord will be pleased!