One of the lessons I’m slowly learning right now is to not grumble, but to be thankful. In all fairness you and I have a lot to be thankful for. In my case, both of my parents are still living, I get to serve in a fantastic ministry and work with great people. I have a godly wife who loves me. I graduated with my bachelors and masters degrees with high honors. By all indications I would appear to be a success. What do I have to grumble about you say? The flesh always wants more. Our flesh lusts after it, and the best way to kill a grumbling spirit is to thank God for what He has given you.
Find Godly Accountability
There are four ways I’ve found to do fight against grumbling. First, if you’re a man find some other godly men, or if you’re a woman find some other godly women, and share openly about what God is doing in your life. I have several people in my life that I share openly with, in addition to friends around the country. I encourage you, men, to look for other men in your church who you can learn from and grow in your walk with God. Likewise, women, I encourage you to look for godly older women who can encourage you and pray for you.
By putting yourself in relationships where you are held accountable for how you behave and face trials, you are putting yourself in contact with God’s grace. For example, I regularly meet with an older gentleman who teaches Sunday school at the church my wife and I are members of. While our meetings are mutually encouraging, and we discuss theology at length, we also share with each other about our respective lives. We encourage each other in our marriages and pray for one another. We speak the truth into each other’s lives. This is one reason why everyone needs a godly saint in his/her life, not only to help him/her grow, but also to see how this godly person has grown in his/her walk with the Lord over the years.
Regularly Read Your Bible
Second, cultivate the practice of regularly reading and meditating upon the Word. There is a reason why Paul talks about thankfulness to the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Paul said that he knew what it was like to live with much and to live with little in Philippians 4:11-12. He experienced a great deal of suffering and hardship, and yet he was thankful. Look at Jesus: He experienced a great deal of heart break, betrayal by his own disciples, and died in our place for our sin. Jesus is not only our example, He is our Lord, King, and High Priest. He calls us to put our sin to death, including our grumbling and complaining.
When we are satisfied in Him our hearts will resound with thankfulness to our Savior. When we aren’t satisfied in God, we will seek after other lovers/idols and pursue them until we are full of their pleasures, whatever those are. This is exactly why regularly opening your Bible and meditating on it will help you. Going through large sections of Scripture at once can be helpful. Don’t be afraid to stop and meditate on texts that seem to be speaking directly to situations that you are dealing with. Remember, the Word of God isn’t a book of fairytales, but the living and active Word that convicts us and points us to Jesus.
Grow in the Gospel
Third, fight grumbling and complaining not only with thankfulness, but by growing in the gospel. As I mentioned earlier, Jesus died in our place for our sin so that we would put sin to death. He is the ultimate reason why we seek a superior pleasure and delight in God. When we grumble and complain, we are saying that God is not enough for us. We are saying when we grumble that we will not delight in or be satisfied by the living water that Jesus provides to us. We are saying that we will not be satisfied by the Bread of Life, Jesus Christ.
If you’re truly a Christian you should feel the weightiness of what you’re actually saying when you grumble and complain about your trials and circumstances. I not only want you to see that it’s sinful and wrong, but to recognize that the cure to grumbling and complaining is to be satisfied in Jesus. When we focus only on the problem but never get to the cure, we do a disservice not only to ourselves, but also to others around us. This is one reason why many Christians get discouraged. By having the right perspective on this issue, we will see ourselves clearer as we are in Christ, and thus be able grow through our grumbling and complaining.
Submit to the teaching of Scripture
Finally, I know that grumbling and complaining are hard habits to overcome, but remembering the Word of God can help. As I wrote this article, for example, I was grumbling, complaining, and very unhappy because my laptop wasn’t working. While I knew my wife, who works in the IT industry, could fix the issue (and she did fix the problem with my laptop), I still doubted and worried. I still longed to vent my frustration, complain, and grumble. Maybe that’s where you are today—frustrated, angry, and/or complaining. My encouragement to you is the same words I have to repeat to myself: stop beating myself up about issues I can’t control, to take a walk, spend some time praying, and preaching the gospel to myself rather than berating myself again and again. We have a Savior who understands what we are going through. We can not only look to Him but because of Him we can be thankful. We can praise Him not only through the storms, but also in the midst of the storm, because He walks alongside and ahead of us. Our God is faithful and mighty to save; He is our rock and our fortress. Next time you find yourself grumbling and complaining, I encourage you to run to Jesus. Cling to Him and abide in Him; He is all you need.