Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God, without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life… –Philippians 2: 14 – 16a
In June of 1880, one of the most remarkable women in history was born healthy into a loving and devoted family. Tragedy struck eighteen months later when scarlet fever left the little girl blind and deaf. Helen Keller spent the next seven years in darkness, frustration and loneliness. Helen’s world was dark, silent and lonely until a remarkable woman entered her life. Anne Sullivan answered the call to teach Helen how to communicate and reenter the world of her family and friends. Anne stayed by Helen’s side and Helen was able to learn to read, write and speak. She eventually completed her college education, wrote numerous articles and books, spoke internationally and met many presidents.
If anyone had the right to complain about her circumstances, it was Helen Keller. Her story provides us with an opportunity to address the subject of complaining. For the average person, complaining comes as easily as breathing. Every day, people complain about traffic, weather, schedules, children, churches, appearance, aches, and pains… You name it, we complain about it. In fact, for some, complaining is their primary means of communication.
Unfortunately, when it comes to complaining, Christians don’t seem to be any different than the rest of the world. Somewhere along the line, even Christians have bought into the idea that it is our “right” to be happy, fulfilled, satisfied, healthy and catered to every moment of every day. But, I don’t remember finding that anywhere in the Bible! By contrast to our culture today, it’s almost unbelievable that Helen Keller was quoted as saying, “So much has been given me, I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.”
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, urges believers to “do everything without complaining or arguing” not only for the sake of peace, but “so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God”. He goes on to describe the ones who do not complain as ones who “shine like stars in the universe.”
A life marked by complaining mars our character. A life marked by thankfulness builds it. The choice between the two is most important. Which one will you choose?
1. How would the people closest to you describe you, as a complainer or as a thankful person?
2. Evaluate one area of your life that you can work on today in order to complain less and to be more thankful.
Psalm 95:1-7; Psalm 107:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18