“Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shins as lights in the world” Philippians 2:14-15
In a recent daily devotion my husband and I were doing each morning we learned a lot about our attitude. In a world of instant gratification we often get frustrated and bitter when things we want or need do not come to us at our beck and call. We take for granted the gifts that we are given each and every day. We choose to complain about our lifestyle when the very needs of life are being met, however we want more. Look at the time when God rescued his people out of Egypt. He groomed a man, Moses to lead them out, He parted the Red Sea for them and their safety and all the while He assured them that He would be a personal God to them. He told them He would lead them into a land flowing with milk and honey, He told them they would be blessed and taken care of, he told them he would provide for them. He said it would not be easy, but he would be with them all the way. God delivered on each promise day after day.
So whats wrong with this story. Much like us today, the people were not satisfied with their needs being met. They wanted more. They had been rescued, protected, astoundingly fed, clothes on their back, given clouds in the day to protect them from the heat and a fire at night to comfort them from the cold. One would believe they would be overwhelmed with joy with all the provisions being made for them but instead they complained. They complained about what they left behind in Egypt. They complained that the food they were given was not what they wanted. They griped about their future. This complaining escalated to the point of God being angered. Sound familiar? That very thought brings me to my knees. How many times have I made God angry for not appreciating the very things he provides me with each and every day? How many times have I grieved His heart when He has granted me with a roof over my head, clothes on my back and a warm bed to sleep in? How many times have I complained or griped about wanting more, when I have everything I need, and then some. I never really put much thought into complaining until this study. I should rephrase that, I knew complaining was wrong but never really thought of it as sinful. A complainer doubts God’s character and denies that He is working for you. By complaining, we sacrifice the grace that could very well get us through the circumstance we are complaining about. Proverbs 18:2 says, “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions.” OUCH! That one stings a little. I have been so guilty over the years of expressing my own opinion in negative ways. All I have done is allowed Satan to use my complaining attitude to his good. When I have a bad attitude and complain, it shows Satan my weak side and also shows doubt in my trust in God. I do not want to give Satan any ammunition to use against me. When I let my guard down he is not only going to go after me, he is going after my marriage, my kids, my business and everything else he can get his hands on.
With that all that being said, I am learning to replace my complaining attitude with a thankful heart. Gratitude is the key to a good attitude! Merriam-Webster defines gratitude as a feeling of appreciation or thanks. How hard can that be? For humans, VERY! There is a quote in my devotion book that says, “Only when we acknowledge God as the gracious provider of general blessings, like life and breath, food and shelter, do we begin to comprehend our need for God in a personal way and begin to express faith in Him.” I am learning to replace the moment I want to complain about something or someone with gratitude. Instead of complaining about not having something I desire, I thank God for something I have. When I want to complain about my spouse, my children or my friends, I am trying to stop myself and just be thankful I have them in my life. This is not always easy. It takes great discipline. Instead of complaining about a minor ache or pain, pray for someone who is really sick. Instead of complaining about whats for dinner, pray for those who are starving. It sounds so simplistic but in truth it takes great authority over your mind to do it. I had to really ask God to reveal to me things I complain about that I don’t ever realize I am complaining about. Sound silly I know. Take time to make a mental note on how many times you complain a day. You may be surprised. I was! (Driver in front of me too slow…someone in the 15 items or less line with far more than 15 items when I have one thing and I am in a hurry…go push a cart around in Walmart and see how many complaints come out of your mouth) I have far from mastered the act of not complaining but just realizing how often I do it and how I am not any better than the people that were led out of Egypt makes me want to change. I do not want to grieve God or make him angry in any way. The very thought makes me my heart heavy and sad. I want to get to heaven and hear him say, Well done my good and faithful servant! I have to pray each and every day and ask for Gods help. I want to encourage you to do the same. Complaining wears your down, but gratitude brings joy and contentment with what you have today. Writer Melody Beattie once said, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
It is not only happy people that are thankful, It is thankful people that are happy!!!