I’m usually very flowery in my openings, but today allow me to be pretty blunt. Can you imagine what would happen if we took all the time we spend complaining and actually harnassed it for good? Frankly, we’d likely have little to complain about because we would have pretty effectively wiped out the majority of ills in our world. From my experience, we spend WAY to much time and energy complaining. We complain about our friends, our families, our political leaders, our churches, you name it. I remember one time I was sitting in a coffee shop in Oskaloosa and I could hear four conversations occurring around me. Two were complaining about their churches, one about family, and one about local politics. Complaining has become a pastime in our culture, a pastime expanded and exacerbated by the rise of social media. A recent study showed that the average person complains an average of 8 minutes a day. That adds up to 1,300 complaints a year, for a total of 53 hours (that’s more than a full week’s worth of work spent just complaining!).
Check out what Paul has to tell us about complaining in Philippians:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. Philippians 2:14-16
Paul is telling us that we need to stop wasting so much of our precious time and energy on complaining, and instead, spend more of our time shining for God in the midst of our oft dark world. Here’s a really simple suggestion: let’s start flipping our complaints into praises. The reality is that the vast majority of our complaints don’t serve any positive purpose. They often don’t solve any problems or make us feel any better, indeed they often serve to make things worse. Instead of getting caught in the negativity, let’s flip it around. Complaining about the food? Spend time being grateful that God has provided you food on a daily basis (which is not the case for 815 million people in our world). Didn’t like the music in church today? Give praises to God for all the great things He has done in your life. Don’t like your political leaders? Thank God that He, and not any frail human being, is the ultimate leader of the universe. Let’s stop getting caught in the constant cycle of complaining, and instead start giving more and more thanks for all the good that we have been blessed with.