by Gloria Furman
Or, “Babies aren’t the only ones who whine.”
My husband once preached a sermon in which he said, “Do you know why your tongue is slippery? Because it’s connected to your heart.”
He was talking about what Jesus said in this verse:
“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34b
Since our mouths speak according to what is in our hearts we can’t ever say, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to say/write/tweet that.”
What we really mean is, “I totally meant that, but I’m sorry you heard it,” or “I’m sorry that Facebook wouldn’t let me login fast enough to delete that.”
Complaining is one of the most obvious indicators to show us just how connected our mouths are to our hearts. As a complainer, I can personally attest to this… dozens of times a day.
If you suspect you may be characterized by complaining, or if you’ve complained about people who suggest that you have a complaining heart, here is some encouragement for you.
1 – Consider how complaining offends our holy God. Jesus goes on in Matthew chapter 12 to say, “ I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (verses 36-37).
2 – Call it what it is. If it really is complaining, then giving it friendly-sounding nicknames like will only deceive you more. Complaining is sin.
Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world.”
James expounds, “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body…. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell…. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God” (James 3:2, 5-6, 9).
3 – God is both willing and able to free you from your complaining heart. He has demonstrated this in sending his Son to the cross to die and in raising him from the dead never to die again. In this good news, God offers you fullness of joy forever in his presence (Psalm 16:11).
The magnitude and endurance of God’s joy is enough to expel every desire in your heart for the praise, pity, or sympathy that you receive from others through your complaining.
In Philippians 2:16 after Paul says to do all things without grumbling, he tells us to hold fast to the word of life—that is, the good news about Jesus. Don’t forget the gospel.
When God satisfies you with the joy he promises in Christ then the rotten rewards of complaining will taste disgusting.
4 – When you are Christ’s, he lives in you and you live in him.
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
By the grace of God we can put on a compassionate heart and forgive someone if we have a complaint against them. We can put on love and let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts. We can be thankful. Instead of complaining we can teach and admonish one another and sing songs with thankfulness in our hearts! (Colossians 3:12-17)
5 – Resist the urge to reach for insufficient antidotes for your complaining heart. Wearing rose-colored glasses or picturing the glass as half-full will only distract you for a little while from the sin problem in your heart. Don’t forget that changing your circumstances might give you a shot of short-term contentment, but it’s your heart that needs to change.
“Spiritual contentment comes from the frame of the soul. The contentment of a man or woman who is rightly content does not come so much from outward arguments or from any outward help, as from the disposition of their own hearts.” Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment
6 – Why do you bring snacks for your kids to eat on road trips? Because it’s hard to whine, “How much longer? Are we there yet?” when you’ve got cheese sticks and pretzels in your mouth.
The same principle applies to us as well. It’s hard to complain when you’ve got praise in your mouth.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:6
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gloria is from all over the US (mostly Texas). In 2008 she moved to the Middle East with her husband Dave to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai. They have three fun kiddos (Aliza, Norah and Judson). Gloria is writing a book for Crossway on grace in the mundane and enjoys serving the ladies in her community as a doula.