Are You a Complainer? Change Your Life through Praise
A couple months ago, my sister-in-law reminded me of a very vital truth: Grumbling is a sin. She didn’t say it TO me, she was merely correcting herself out loud 🙂 I just happened to be in earshot.
God used this moment to remind me of truth He’d told me in the past: Quit grumbling & complaining.
Are You a Grumbler?
The Bible’s most famous grumblers were God’s chosen people, the Israelites. Their punishment? 40 years of wandering in the wilderness as they bemoaned everything from the food they were given to their leader & everything in between. They talked about how at least in Egypt (where they were enslaved) they had provision. Yet they overlooked the fact that they had provision in the wilderness, too — it just wasn’t what they were used to (or wanted).
So they wandered… and wandered… and died in their wandering.
Have you ever known a grumbler, a chronic complainer? Did you enjoy being around them or notice they were the most popular people in the room? Me neither.
My mom calls these people “a wet blanket” who bring down the happy vibes of the room 🙂 I know I’ve had seasons of my life where I was so overwhelmed by hardship that I couldn’t seem to find much to praise God for either. Everything in my life was failing & I was trying like the dickens to put it back together again. So there I stayed, in a confusing & very hard place: The desert.
Psalm 23 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” Walking through is a lot different than hanging out in a place. This valley — a low point the psalmist found himself in — was not a campground but a passageway.
It’s easy when you’re in a tough time to think you’ll be there forever. If others in your life have abandoned you, it’s easy to think that God’s abandoned you, too. But God’s not like that.
Even in hard times, we can celebrate His nearness. In fact, the times in my life I’ve been most aware of His presence is when everyone else peaced out. I look back on dozens of my old journals, filled with angst but also replete with scripture & words He’d given me, showing how very much He was speaking to me in those seasons — & that gives us much to praise Him for, don’t you think?
Let’s visit some scriptures on complaining versus praising, shall we?
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life..” – Philippians 2
Amazing that our lack of complaining proves us to be “blameless” and makes us SHINE in this world. Wow! Why would that be? This next passage gives us a clue. Here God links our complaints with idolatry, rebellion, and His anger:
“They despised the pleasant land;
they did not believe His promise.
They grumbled in their tents
and did not obey the Lord.
So He swore to them with uplifted hand
that He would make them fall in the wilderness,
make their descendants fall among the nations
and scatter them throughout the lands.
They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor
and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods;
they aroused the Lord’s anger by their wicked deeds,
and a plague broke out among them.”
– Psalm 106
Then check out this passage. It’s sobering — showing the impact our complaints have on our children!
“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron: ‘How long will this wicked community grumble against Me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites. So tell them,
“As surely as I live, declares the Lord, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say: In this wilderness your bodies will fall—every one of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against Me. Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.
As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected. But as for you, your bodies will fall in this wilderness. Your children will be shepherds here for forty years, suffering for your unfaithfulness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness.”‘”
– Numbers 14
Perhaps the reason complaining is such a big deal to God is because it stems from unbelief (& without faith it is impossible to please Him). Grumbling essentially tells God, “I don’t think You can handle this. I don’t think You’re fair. You owe me better.” It’s entitlement-meets-doubt-meets-unforgiveness. It’s like the trifecta of ungodliness.
And what is the end result of our complaints — do we get what we want, what we think we deserve? Nope. Grumbling actually leads to our destruction…
“We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.” – 1 Cor. 10
When we complain against God, we give the enemy a voice in our lives. As we learn in James, our tongues have the power to create or destroy:
“The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” – James 3
So What’s a Better Way?
The Lord wants us to “speak life” over ourselves, our families, & the world around us.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” – Prov. 18:21
Psalm 100 may be one of the shortest psalms in scripture, but it’s got a great message:
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into His presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, He is God!
It is He who made us, and we are His;
we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise!
Give thanks to Him; bless His name!
For the Lord is good;
His steadfast love endures forever,
and His faithfulness to all generations.”
The Apostle Paul tells the Philippians (in his “joy letter”) to rejoice in the Lord always:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” – Philippians 4
We Don’t Enter His Gates with Complaining
From these passages we learn the following vital truths:
- We enter His presence when we worship Him!
- God loves our praise, not our complaints
- Focus on the good & think about it continuously 🙂
- If you’re worried, pray to God with thanksgiving
- After giving Him our worries & frustrations in prayer, enjoy His peace!
… But We Aren’t Fake About Real Life Either
This doesn’t mean we gloss over hard times. The Bible says that there’s a time to weep and mourn — and a time to laugh.
We shouldn’t resort to faking happy. God accepts our brokenness and is near us when we are heartbroken. But David did call it a “sacrifice of praise” because sometimes we don’t feel like praising Him when our life is in the pit.
Yet we can find something to praise Him about in the midst of our storms, even the smallest things. Ask Him to remind you of His goodness in a time of trial or testing. Don’t rely on your own strength to do it. And surround yourself with positive people who make praising Him a habit. Go to bed every night thanking God for all He has done for you & all He’s blessed you with. Remind yourself that He is good & He’s at work, even when you can’t see it. These small daily habits will help turnaround your negative thoughts & speech quickly.
Maybe the reason you & I haven’t had our breakthrough is because we keep speaking the negative, worst-case-scenario into existence instead of speaking in faith & worshipping God through praise.
So today, before you say or think something, consider this: Does it pass the Philippians 4 test? Is it TRUE, honorable, pure, lovely, worthy of praise? Then think & talk about what is instead. When you do, you may just see your life (& your family) change for the best 🙂