Every now and then I realize something very troubling about my life. It is something that I often overlook, partly because it is generally accepted in our culture. It is something that I have always somewhat known, yet tried to deny. I have come to realize that I have a problem complaining.
It is amazing how God can use my children to point this out in my life. The other night at dinner, I sat down with the family and was complaining. It was small things, but still my son picked up on it. After a few minutes, one of my children says, "Dad, all you have done tonight is complain." My response was, "What do you mean?" He says, "The food is too hot, the bread is too cold, and we don't have anything to drink." Guilty. He nailed me.
Think about it. Thanksgiving was just a few weeks ago. Christmas is right around the corner. As a Christian, we certainly should never need a holiday season in order to offer praise and thanks. But if we were honest with ourselves, not even a season stops us from complaining. Our Thanksgivings can be filled with complaints. Christmas can often become unmet expectations, which results in complaints.
Complaining can subtly creep into every area of our life. Just look at how we respond to the weather. It is too rainy. It is too hot. Then it is too cold and we have too much snow. It is too humid. Often, it is too windy. And it goes on and on. At least in my heart. I don't know about yours.
The Apostle Paul makes an incredible statement about complaining in the book of Philippians. He says to "do all things without grumbling" (2:14). When Paul says grumbling, he is talking about the heart attitude of complaining. It is not being thankful for what is going on around you in life.
Whenever I read that, I think, "Really? All things?" Yes. Paul does not offer any exception clause. He didn't say that it would be good for us to do most things without grumbling. He doesn't say, "Do all things without grumbling unless the furnace in your home breaks." He doesn't say, "Do all things without grumbling unless the referee clearly misses the call for your basketball team." He doesn't even say, "Do all things without grumbling unless your spouse is selfish and unkind." No, God is calling me (and you) to do all things without complaining.
Why? Why would this be God's standards? Could it be that it is because we live in a world of grumblers. Our culture if filled with complaining people. And if we have come to know Jesus Christ and have been saved, we prove ourselves to be different from those of the world. We will prove ourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom we appear as lights in the world (Philippians 2:15). Think about it. What does it say when we go to the office and everyone is complaining about the boss and we refuse to join in? It says that there is something different in our life. That's partly the point.
And so, I resolve to not complain. I know that I am going to fail and I will have to confess that before my Lord. But I plan on attacking my heart of complaining each day, each hour, each minute as they come. Will you?