My school is starting back tomorrow. I need to unpack, go to class, buy books, go to a meeting, email that teacher… the list could keep going. Maybe you have numerous work clients calling your phone, 2 hungry kids asking “what’s for dinner?,” laundry piled up over your head, or unpaid bills stacked on the table. I’m sure our to-do lists look very different. But, there is a common visitor on our lists of what not to do- spend waste our time complaining

Now I know that sounds cheesy or obvious. Clearly no one views a complaining attitude as a positive characteristic, but I think we don’t actively discipline ourselves in this area, as we should.

How many times today did you casually mention (or maybe even burst out in tears) all the things you needed to do? How many times did you critique something in your life, wishing it was more like this and less like that? Did you mumble under your breath when the not-so-fun parts of your to-do list took up your time?

Complaining stems from our own selfishness. Complaining is the result of an ungrateful heart, a heart that is unhappy with something other than the top desire. Complaints are the opposite of gratefulness.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. {1 Thessalonians 5:18}

The living God is sovereign, abundantly good, and promises to provide for our needs (Matthew 6:33). We have a Savior who died in our place and who cleanses us with overflowing grace. — But we want to complain about something as insignificant as laundry or homework? This stems from the selfishness in our hearts. 

There’s a fine line between being overwhelmed and needing to vent versus complaining and grumbling. The former is healthy; the later is not. In fact, complaining is often destructive. Do you want to hang around people who always have a bad attitude? I certainly do not. 

The problem with complaining has as much to do with the complainer as those around him/her. Complaining is looked down upon because is is discouraging, not edifying, and not fruitful.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing,  so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.  {Philippians 2:14-16}

When I picture someone shining like a star, I picture someone with a smile spread across their face, someone who exuberates love, joy, kindness, and the rest of the fruits of the Spirit.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. {Ephesians 4:29}

Unnecessary complaints not only worsen a negative attitude (fueling the fire), but also can harm our witness. If an unsaved coworker always heard about how troublesome/monotonous/overwhelming your life is, why would they be interested in the same lifestyle? Even one of the most well known atheists sees the ugliness of complaining. 

“People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.” -Stephen Hawking

And do I even need to mention the obvious reasons? Someone less fortunate would love to be in your place, doing what you’re doing. There will always be someone with less than you. If you have food in your fridge, you are richer than about 75% of the world. (Yikes. Now try to complain about having to fix dinner.)

“So, what are we to do? We know complaining is bad, but it just slips out.” Well now that we share what not to do, we can also share a few things on what to do.

As soon as you finish reading this, I want you to pray, asking the Spirit to transform your heart and to help you speak only encouraging and uplifting words. Throughout the day, I hope you keep this blog in your mind. I pray that you catch yourself complaining, realizing that you have so much more to say that produces positive fruit. Start disciplining yourself to stop the pointless complaints and mumbling. For every one complaint, I want you to think of two blessings, and praise God for them. It’s time to turn our selfishness into gratefulness.