Below I posted the most mind-numbing list of complaints received by Thomas Cook Vacations from dissatisfied customers. It made me laugh and groan at the same time, but I think it hits home with all of us as well. Each of these travelers were probably in some of the most beautiful places and amazing accommodations on our planet, yet each one found absurd issues in the midst of tranquility. As humans, most of us would have to admit that we are complainers as well. Not because we want to be, but because it is often the go-to emotion we feel when we view the world. It is just easier for our spirits to find something we would change rather than express the gratitude for what went well and what we appreciated! (I look forward to Heaven when I believe that those scales will tip to the other side and our mouths will speak only with dripping gratitude for an awesome God!)
The Bible addresses about how we should think and speak on a consistent basis. If you do a simple word study on “complain”, you very quickly get the gist that our complaints rarely amount to any worth. The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8 – Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Yet, when we step out of a performance, a sermon, or a conversation, we often go into complain mode rather that reflect on what was praiseworthy! Oh, to have this one verse nailed in my own heart!
I believe that many of the issues we face in our culture stem back to our lack of praise and our insistence on complaining. I think that our roots of depression, bitterness, and burn out come straight back to our own inability to set aside the ignoble to focus on the noble. We have trained ourselves to speak the negative and then we are surprised when our hearts follow our mouths!
My challenge for all of us this weak is to do two things:
1. Lean in to the Holy Spirit on this issue. This is one of those areas where we are often weak, but the Holy Spirit can put us in check when we have the desire to complain. Ask Him to help you to see the world from God’s perspective. What unique traits did He give to the person that irritates you? What lessons does He have for you to learn in the midst of frustrating circumstances? Who is He trying to use your life to lead to Christ?
2. Train yourself to do the opposite of what you may have been doing. Some of the work is done by the Holy Spirit, but some of the work is done in the framework of obedience. We are all in control of what leaves our mouths, whether we believe that or not! Own your words and conform them into God-honoring words instead of negative ones.
The reality is that more change will come from our praise than our complaints. No, really. I’m not sure we believe that! It’s like telling a child they are fat and thinking it will motivate them to lose weight…quite the opposite! Complaining often sends the hearer into their own state of despair rather than a state of motivation to be the best they can be! We’ve all got to mold and shape our perspectives of people and situations to limit our complaints and exalt our praise. It is a simple way to change the world…or at least change ourselves.