Question: What sneaks up on you more quietly than a whisper, is more infectious than the the flu and will taint your mind and attitude if left unchecked? Furthermore, everyone is vulnerable to its attack and no one is immune to its effects regardless of race, background, wealth, intelligence, age or status.
The answer is Complaint. Not complaint as in a singular fault or flaw but Complaint with a capital “C” that is a pervasive mindset and the opposite of gratitude. A complaint may be valid and presented in a positive way. Complaint (which I will refer to from now on with the capital “C”) is always ugly and self-centered. There is generally very little love and very little in the way of Godliness in Complaint and for Christ followers who need to be a positive witness to the world that is a big problem.
Complaint infects for a variety of reasons but those reasons are almost always circumstantial. As Christians we are to base our outlook and our attitude on our position in Christ which is eternal, unchanging and assured. Circumstances are the opposite of that. They are temporary, seasonal and constantly changing.
Unfortunately in the scheme of things we tend to forget or downplay our position in Christ and focus more on our circumstances than we probably should and in turn that gives our circumstances more power than they should have. Those circumstances come to dictate our feelings to some degree and Complaint begins to grow.
Our attitude becomes one of pessimism (“they are out to get me!” “what next will go wrong?”), selfishness (“I don’t have enough as is, how can I give to someone else?”) and hopelessness (focusing on the bad instead of the good and basing one’s outlook on that). When we are pessimistic, selfish and without hope we discourage those around us and miss chances to bless others and be blessed ourselves.
Worse still, Complaint is contagious. So much so that it effects entire families, workplaces, teams and even the body of Christ, the church. With very few exceptions once one person gives in to Complaint there will be others who begin to show the symptoms of negative thinking and negative speech.
How do we fight Complaint? How can we defend against it?
Quite simply, we must practice and model thankfulness. We need to be consistent with our praise to God and we to be visible and vocal about how we do it. We need to be sharing with one another frequently about all the ways that God is blessing and has blessed our lives. We must be encouragers to one another and we must be lifting our brothers and sisters in Christ up in prayer daily that they might be strengthened and filled with the Holy Spirit.
Living a life of gratitude requires discipline and conscious choices. We can choose to give God our praise and thanksgiving even in the midst of tough times and difficult circumstances. Circumstances will change and trials will come and go but our God remains and His goodness and faithfulness is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Let us choose to be thankful. Let us choose to be grateful and to share our blessings with those around us in such a way that Complaint has no chance of taking root.
Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. (Hebrews 13:15)