Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Complaining vs. Thankfulness

What’s the difference between complaining and “expressing dissatisfaction”? 
Have you ever thought about it?  In expressing dissatisfaction, you do something to fix what you are unpleased with. You may convey that you don’t like something, but you are willing to be a part of the solution to fix it. With complaining, you just sit by and acknowledge all the problems you notice without a willingness to help change it.

Simply put, complaining is blaming God: it’s telling Him that He’s doing the wrong thing. Who are we to tell God that we know better? Think of the consequences the Israelites faced for their complaining—they wandered in the desert for 40 years! The problem is, we often don’t recognize how much we really complain.

“Wrong attitudes are hard to change because they are habitual, harmful ways of thinking about life ‘circumstances’.” Particular attitudes and responses are often so engrained in our thinking that we usually don’t recognize them or notice that they are wrong. For instance, did you know that “venting” is really expressing an angry and complaining heart? Instead of venting we need to practice confessing our anger and dealing with it biblically. But whether it’s outwardly expressed or you simply stew on it in your heart, a complaining and angry attitude is still sin and reaps consequences. We must practice not only confessing sin when we outwardly show it, but also confessing to God when we think it.

Whenever we exhibit a destructive and sinful attitude, we must look to replace it with the opposite. Having a thankful heart in the midst of any circumstance is something we ought to strive to do! Look at the response that Matthew Henry exhibited after being robbed of every penny he owned:
“Let me be thankful first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third let me be thankful that although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.”
Wow, think of the impact on ourselves and those around us if we chose to respond in such a way! We should too, because whatever situation or problem we find ourselves in, ultimately as believers we are doing better than we deserve—because all we deserve is the wrath and judgment of God!

Replacing complaining with thankfulness is a moment-by-moment choice. Analyze and evaluate your thoughts, confess any wrong thoughts to God and purposefully put on an attitude of thankfulness!

As always, the power to overcome complaining and develop an attitude of gratitude comes from Christ alone. Only by calling on Him can we have the power to respond biblically in whatever circumstances we may face.

*Inspired by the book Lord, Change My Attitude by James McDonald. All quotes were taken from that book.
*image at the top of this post was created by Katie


Sophie said...

Thank you, Allison. That was very challenging.

Kristen said...

So true, Allison. It is so hard to not complain... or be unthankful. For me, it is so easy to think on what is "unsatisfactory"-- so much so it clouds my mind from recognizing all the blessings God has given and truly giving thanks to Him in all circumstances. I wish I could "get it down."

I've heard that Matthew Henry quote before, and it truly is amazing. I wish I could just as eagerly choose to look at circumstances in the positive and praise as he did.

Caitlin said...

So convincting! An attitude of gratitude is the way to go!

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