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Do you ever find yourself complaining? Whether it’s a slow driver in front of you, too much ice in your drink at a restaurant, crummy weather that ruins your plans for the day, the neighbor’s dog… We can find plenty to complain about, can’t we? And unfortunately, we often do. But it is possible to stop a complaining spirit.
But, you may be wanting to argue, someone who goes around upbeat and happy all the time is too much of a Pollyanna. They aren’t real.
Perhaps they aren’t real in our culture. But apparently God thinks they are still something to be emulated. Check out what He says in Philippians 2:14-15a:
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God.” (NET)
Ouch. Everything?? That’s a tough one.
What difference does it make, anyway? Let’s think about that for a minute.
How would a grumbling, arguing spirit affect us personally? I don’t know about you, but when I have days that I am irritable and crabby, I don’t want to be with myself. I don’t like the way I act, nor the way I feel when I act that way. I feel guilty and discouraged, because I know I’m being “ugly” to anyone and everyone around me. And that doesn’t make me feel good about myself. Can you relate?
How does that affect our relationships with those we love the most? Well, unfortunately, they seem to bear the brunt of it. It takes more crabbiness on my part before I will take that out on a stranger. But a husband/wife… They are with us regularly, and so those filters that protect innocent strangers from our outbursts somehow disappear when we are with our loved ones. We relax; we don’t worry about what they think of us as much as we do others. After all, they committed to sticking it out regardless, right? So when we feel irritable, our loved ones know it. But that sure doesn’t inspire them to love us more, does it?
What impact does our discontent have on our children? Like our spouses, they often bear the brunt of our irritability. However, in some ways it burdens them even more. Kids are still young, and their view of the world, of right and wrong, of relationships and how they work – all their ideas are still being shaped and formed. They look to us to explain that to them. Not by our lectures, but by our example through words, actions and attitudes. They see it all. They pick it up, turn it over and evaluate it. And it shapes the way they will respond when they face the same situations in their lives.
Our friends are those outside our families who know us best. They know some of our failings and still choose to hang out with us, and for that they are rewarded with… arguing? Sometimes. Other times, they may not be the recipient of our railings, but they are close enough to watch it. And whether they consciously choose to follow us or not, our example often makes an impression on our friends – and sometimes not the impression we would chose to make.
This is just as scary as the impact we have on our loved ones, who seem to bear the brunt. Others around us are watching us. We don’t always see them, or know they are watching, but they are. A lady approached me at the store a few weeks ago to comment on the actions of one of my children, who had made an impression on her. I am thankful that it was a good impression! But what if, rather than the positive interaction she had observed, I had been irritable with my kids, grumbling about their behavior or the crowded store, or… whatever. We had no idea she was watching us, but she obviously was. What a different impact we could have had on her, without even knowing we were doing so! That’s a sobering thought.
I want to encourage you today. Complaining comes easily to all of us. But it’s so worth it to tuck that verse in our hearts and remind ourselves, when the days go every which way wrong, to take a deep breath and face it without grumbling and arguing. When the stress is over, you’ll be glad you did!
How do you keep a check on your attitude? What helps you remember not to grumble and complain?