Ever wonder why the tone of a child’s voice when they are whining just seems to find that last nerve? Have you ever met a “Debbie downer”? Both statements conjure up images that are not pleasant. Complaining is a part of our experience, we all have engaged in it from time to time. It seems so natural that when things don’t go as we wish, we express our dissatisfaction verbally. Complaining is described as expressing discontentment or dissatisfaction. Most of us complain much more than we realize or are willing to admit. We verbalize our discontent or dissatisfaction almost daily and we usually involve others. I ran across an interesting study on complaining from a psychology article.
“Research from Stanford University has also found that complaining reduces the size of our hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and problem solving. The study found that engaging in complaining or simply hearing someone complain for more than 30 minutes could physically damage our brains.” (www.m1psychology.com/complaining-is-bad-for-your-brain)
Seems that complaining is bad for you and others, yet we still do it. In fact, we seem to be drawn to it. Entire industries are dedicated to expressing dissatisfaction or discontentment. Much of what is broadcast on the “news” channels are complaints of various kinds and the in-depth analysis as to why. I wonder if all the negative commentary that is broadcast on news channels were removed, how much news would be left? I would be willing to bet not very much. Complaining has been turned into a spectator sport and business is good! So much time is spent on verbizing why we are discontent or dissatisfied, that there never seems to be time to think about anything else.
In Philippians 2:14, Paul writes, “Do all things without grumbling (complaining) or disputing (arguing).” The context is Paul’s admonition to be like Christ. To live as He lived, think as He thought, have the attitudes He did. When one looks at the life of Christ, we see a Man who did not grumble, complain, dispute or argue. He lived a life of humility and contentment, dependent on the Father. He was above reproach in all He did. We too are to live like that. When I live life without the complaining, murmuring, grumbling and arguing, my life will be clean and innocent according to Paul. Now that doesn’t mean not speaking the truth or speaking against that which is wrong or evil, but it does mean I live a contented life regardless of my circumstances. In verse 13, Paul states “for it is God working in you giving you the desire and power to do what pleases Him.” My focus is to please God rather than myself. My complaints often are related to my own desires and wants that are unfulfilled and show a discontentment with God’s work in my life. Paul later in the letter states that he had to learn how to be content with his circumstances, whether he had an abundance or didn’t have enough. The lesson learned for him was, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). His circumstances were not the key – it was the life of Christ in him that changed his attitude. Paul took his own advice at the end of 2:14 and didn’t argue with God. He simply accepted what God had provided even as he made his needs known. Instead of arguing with God that he deserved better, Paul trusted Him who had his best interest at heart.
So instead of complaining and getting brain damage, why don’t I trust and live contentedly? Why not shine brightly amongst a crooked generation by living a clean and innocent life without the stain of grumbling, complaining and arguing.