So how do we escape from the complaint-trap of the devil? We need a strategy, a plan of godly action that, with God’s power, will lead to gripe-free living. If we don’t do something, sin will trip us up over and over and over again. This is true of all sin. It’s true of complaining. If we don’t actively pursue quitting, we will never stop complaining.
So here we go.
First things first: daily turn your complaining problem over to God. You can’t conquer complaining in our own power. You are powerless before this mighty foe. So turn it over to God first thing every morning. When you pray, God will hear you and he will help.
Next step: cry out to God whenever the temptation to blurt out a negative comment comes. Ask him for power over your tongue throughout each day. It will be his pleasure to give it. He loves producing self-control in his children. Every humble believer is given grace for the moment when the urge to sin is greatest.
After you’ve turned your struggle to overcome complaining over to God and you’re regularly crying out to him in times of testing, you can enlist further help. Do you have a friend you associate with on a regular basis with whom you could make a pact to hold each other accountable in the area of complaining? Could you give another believer permission to correct you when they hear you whining? There is strength in numbers when it comes to overcoming sin, so join a fellow complainer in seeking to become complaint-free. Find someone at church or at work or in your family who can ask the hard questions with grace when you fail and encourage you in the Lord when you succeed.
While we’re talking about our fellow human beings, let me encourage you as you’re beginning your fight against critical talk to avoid complainers. “Do not be misled,” Paul warns believers in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company corrupts good character.” (NIV)
Hang around complainers and you’ll become a complainer. Complaining is contagious. You hear a complaint and soon you’re complaining. Another hears your complaint and they chime in. Soon the whole break room is abuzz with negativity. It happens.
So don’t hang around complainers. You’ll be tempted to join in. You’ll be defeated. You’ll sin. So avoid bad company. Do so especially in the early days of your struggle against this oh-so-present sin.
Finally, I want to suggest that you develop the twin habits of encouragement and thanksgiving.
We’re all in this together. We’re all in a fight against sin. We all win some battles. We all lose others. We need encouragement. So rather than complain about a person, speak well of them to others, talk about the good in them. Better yet, encourage the person you were planning to whine about. Thank them for the good they’ve done for you or others.
Let Ephesians 4:29 be your new life verse: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (NIV)
And concerning your difficult circumstances: thank God for the good he’s doing through them. Romans 8:28 is sometimes used as a “suck it up and be a man” rebuke, but it isn’t intended to be that. It’s intended to stir up thanksgiving to God in the midst of trying times. “And we know,” Paul writes, “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV)
God is at work in your life. He is bringing you through times of suffering and pain and difficulty so that your character will be refined. He is training you to be the helper to others that he knows he’ll need in the near future. Talk to God about your problems, your difficulties, your troubles without complaining. Then thank him. Thank him for his presence. Thank him for his provision. Thank him for his protection. Thank him for his goodness in the middle of the mess that tempts you to complain.
Ready to live complaint-free? I am. I’m going after God’s help on this one. I intend to be an encourager. I commit myself to thankfulness. What about you? Will you do whatever it takes to stop complaining? Will you be an encourager? Will you give thanks?
I’m encouraged when I think of what the church will be like when every believer is praising God rather than pouting.
Let’s pray to that end.
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