Choose Not to Complain

One More Year of Choices…

By Barbara Dahlgren

Mark Twain once said, “Don’t complain and talk about all your problems. Eighty percent of people don’t care; the other twenty percent will think you deserve them.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that statement.

The Bible admonishes us to do all things without complaining. (Philippians 2:14) That’s not easy to do. Complaining is the great American pastime. We complain about everything: our employers, our coworkers, our spouses, our kids, our taxes, our hair, our weight, our houses, our government, the traffic, long checkout lines, and the weather. The list is endless. Someone once said that God created everything in six days and after resting on the seventh day, he was ready to answer complaints on the eighth.

Our society doesn’t help. It programs us to think we deserve so much more than we have and that possessions are stepping stones to happiness. Marketing companies are masters of selling us things we don’t really need. From an early age, we are blitzed with advertising telling us one cereal is better than another because of the toy inside the carton, and it doesn’t stop until they lay us to rest in the finest rosewood we think we deserve instead of a pine box. We grow up in a constant state of discontent. We complain about what we don’t have. When we get it, we still complain. The more we have, the more we complain.

Complaining is not a new concept. The children of Israel loved to whine and complain. When they left Egypt, they complained a lot. They wanted different food. They wanted meat. They wanted better drinking water. They wanted Moses to speak to them instead of God. Each time God gave them what they wanted, they were still discontented – and they didn’t even have a television telling them McDonald’s was better than manna.

To stop complaining means more than just keeping our mouths shut. The Greek word for “complaining” in Philippians is “gongysmos,” which means to grumble and murmur under our breath. So that probably means we shouldn’t even contort our faces in disapproval and make disgusted, low, guttural, grumbling sounds that show everyone we are displeased without actually coming out and saying it.

To really stop complaining, we must replace those complaints with something positive. The opposite of complaining is thankfulness.

Consider this… Nothing positive comes from complaining or grumbling. It’s a real downer! Not only does it make us miserable, but it makes those around us miserable, too. Constant complaining taints our perspective. We lose focus on the really important things in life.

Finding things to be thankful for is much more productive than complaining. Perhaps it’s as easy as seeing the glass as half full instead of half empty. Or perhaps we should just be thankful we have a glass.

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

  • Put a rubber band around your wrist and each time you complain, snap it so that it hurts. If in a day or two you have a painful, raw, bleeding wrist, feel free to complain about that. After all, your complaining made it happen.
  • Don’t be a whiner! Wah, wah, wah… Life’s not fair. I don’t deserve this. Nobody appreciates me. When you start each morning, do you rise and shine or rise and whine? Stop whining. If you can change your circumstance, change it. If you can’t, whining about it won’t make it better.
  • Remember that Paul and Silas did not complain when they were cast into prison. They sang songs of praise instead. They rejoiced in the Lord. (Acts 16) So when you feel a complaint coming on, sing a song instead. Count Your Blessings is one that comes to mind.
  • When you start to complain, think of something to be thankful for and whisper “I love you, Jesus” instead of grumbling.
  • Repeat this old adage often: Instead of complaining that the rosebush is full of thorns, why not be happy that the thornbush has roses?