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6 Reasons Why Complaining is the Enemy of Contentment

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Are you in a season of your life that you are not enjoying?  Are you unhappy in your job, your marriage, your ministry?  Do you feel you deserve more, or that others are receiving what you deserve? Do you find yourself complaining about your situation – to others, or maybe even just to yourself?  I think we can all identify with one or more of these questions, either now, or at some point in our past.  Some people even seem to be ever stuck in a holding pattern of discontent. One thing that I have come to realize is that while I may believe that complaining is a way to let off steam; or that to complain to someone else feels like the sharing of a burden, in reality, complaining is the enemy of contentment, and here are 6 reasons why:

6 Reasons Complaining is the Enemy of Contentment

Complaining conforms us to the worldRom 12:2 ~ “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

We are at great risk when we do not set our affections “on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:20)  It’s really a vicious circle.  We are unhappy and we complain.  The more we complain, the more unhappy we feel and the more we complain.  When we complain, we are comparing ourselves to the world.  Whether it be people, situations or things, we are not setting our hearts on “things above”.  While we are complaining, we are clinging to, searching for, dreaming of, the things of this world.  We are conforming to this world and all it has to offer.  Instead, we need to renew our minds (our thoughts) and seek God’s will above our own.

Complaining prevents us from behaving wisely1 Samuel 18:30 ~ “And David behaved himself wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with him.”

Much of our complaining can be attributed to jealously.  We often compare our lives to others and wonder why we don’t have what they do.  A ladies group at my church is doing a Bible study called “Living With Unmet Desires” about jealousy which is centered on Saul and David.  Saul becomes jealous of David when he hears the women praise David’s accomplishments over Saul’s.  Saul immediately assumes that David will try to take the kingdom from him.  With that, he is bent on killing David, and David must run for his life and hide from Saul.  The Bible says on more than one occasion that David “behaved wisely”.   One quote from the book really sums up what happens when we allow jealousy into our lives:

“When we do not ask for God to help us rid our thought of envy, a bitter transformation starts to occur.  Sin slowly starts to harden us.  As the bitter root of jealousy finds a place to plant itself in our minds toward that individual, a subtle process starts to take place.  The jealousy starts infecting every part of us.”

The author later mentions that a jealous heart has a lack of peace.  What do we do when we have a lack of peace?  We complain!

So, when times are difficult, it’s important to remember that even during our tribulations, Micah 6:8 tells us exactly how we should behave: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”  I believe that this is how David was when the Bible says that he “behaved wisely”.

Complaining angers God Numbers 11:1a ~ “And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord: and the Lord heard it; and his anger was kindled;”

If you are familiar with the account of the Israelites in the wilderness, you will remember that they complained.  A LOT.  God blessed them in so many ways!  He provided clothes that never wore out, amazing escapes from their enemies, food that rained down from Heaven, and water from miraculous sources.  Yet, they still complained. If you keep on reading after Numbers 11:1a, you will see that as a result of all of the complaining, God eventually rained down fire which consumed those that were on the outermost parts of the camp.  That’s the God-version of “I WILL turn this car around if you do not stop it!”

Complaining emphasizes, and might even prolong, our discomfortNumbers 14:34a ~ “After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years…”

When the spies came back from searching out the Promised Land, ten out of twelve of them reported negatively on the possibility of the Israelites taking the land. They complained that the people were too strong and that the city walls were too great. The other two spies (Joshua and Caleb) could not convince them to recall that God was with them and had already done many great things for them.  In the end, because they failed to recall what God had done for them, they were stuck wandering in the wilderness for forty years before they eventually were able to claim the land.  Of course, none who were adults at the time of the spies’ report were able to enter, they all had to die (because of their complaining – Numbers 14:29) before Israel would enter the Promised Land.  How long are our trials prolonged because we also murmur like the Israelites?

Complaining keeps us from seeing, and appreciating, God’s blessings in our livesPhilippians 4:19 ~ “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

When our daughter was born, she was rushed off to the neonatal intensive care unit with life-threatening complications from RH disease (she is a happy and healthy teenager today).  While we were certainly not excited about the very scary situation that we were living in, we continuously found ourselves surrounded by God’s blessings bestowed upon us through friends and family who offered prayers, comforting words and constant reminders that God was with us.  If we had focused on complaining and living in misery, would we have easily seen all that God was doing around and for us?  Would we have been able to see His love and feel His “peace that passes all understanding” while spending our time demanding to know why God would have allowed that to happen to us.

Complaining keeps us from doing God’s work effectively – Philippians 2:14-15 ~ Do all things without murmurings and disputings:  That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world. 

How can we be a light in the world, showing others the joy of salvation if we spend our time complaining?  Why should they want what we have if WE aren’t happy with it?  This is where 1 Timothy 6:6 comes in:  “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”  Not just gain for ourselves, but especially for the Kingdom of God!

So, how do we keep from complaining?  II Corinthians 10:5 ~ “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” I find that I complain less when I don’t compare myself to others.  I also complain less when I don’t imagine how much “better” my life would be “if only this happened”, or “if I only had this”, “or if they would just do that”. In other words, we need to keep our imagination under control!

The Bible is filled with promises for us (over 3,000!), yet it seems we don’t know them, remember them, or hold them close to us.  We desire for things we do not have, or for our situations to change.  We grow impatient with waiting on God’s timing.  And we complain.  Instead of complaining, we need to keep our eyes on things above, seek and do God’s will and keep in mind verses such as Philippians 4:11 ~ Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”

Of course, some situations are much more difficult to tolerate than others.  This is when we need to remember that this world is not our home, nor is it the end of the story!