The Complaining Tongue (#23)

“Do everything without complaining or arguing.” Philippians 2:14

Now that’s a clear command!  I understand it, I just cannot DO it….  Last week I was a “glass half empty” kind of person.  That’s odd for me, usually I am overly optimistic about most things.

One sure thing about complaining – you can always find more to complain about!  You could also argue that complaining is contagious… surround yourself with women who complain and in due time you will become like them.

I did a word study on complaining once – it was very convicting.  I started around Exodus 16 and followed the children of Israel after they left Egypt.  I marked the word “grumble” (NASB) or “complain” (NIV) or “murmur” (KJV) every time it appeared.  Gees, they complained a lot – and God was not amused.  Then move along to Numbers 11 -14 and they were still complaining… And God got angry and the fire of the Lord consumed the edges of the camp.  Then Miriam complained and started a rebellion and God gave her leprosy.  Next the spies brought back a bad report about the promised land and Israel grumbled again and God was ready to kill the whole lot and pick a new people group, until Moses intervened.  Slow learners, they complained again in Numbers 16 and God killed 15,000 of them with a plague during Korah’s rebellion.  And in Numbers 21 the survivors were still grumbling and God sent poisonous snakes among the people.

Get the picture? Even God tires of constant complaining.

“We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.  These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.” 1 Corinthians 10:9-11

I liked the quote in our book, “To murmur is likewise wicked for it takes God’s promises in vain.”  So when we complain, we are saying that we are tired of waiting for God, or that He has failed us in some way or another.  That’s serious business.

What do you complain about the most?  Can you think of one or two things?

There are basically two kinds of complaints – Useful and Useless.

The Useful category includes situations that are within your circle of influence.  That is, you can impact them directly or have access to someone who can.  You can DO something to change the situation.  Use your wisdom and diplomacy to see if you can change the situation.  Sometimes I say to my daughter – Would you like me to try to fix that, or are you just venting?

The Useless category includes situations that are simply time-wasters.  You cannot do anything about the weather, traffic, long lines, and most of life’s other annoying realities.  Your best bet is going to be to manage your life and time in such a way as to minimize the impact.  Change what you can – and resolve to not complain about the rest!

We can train our minds to focus on the good in life – the list of things we can be grateful for is always a lot longer than our complaint list, when we sit down and think about it.  We need to TRAIN our MINDS to follow Paul’s advice:

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, a Bible study by Deborah Pegues


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