I memorized Philippians 2:14 as a young man. But I memorized the New International Version translation of it. Do all things without grumbling or complaining. I used to repeat it to myself when I found myself grumbling or complaining.
In fact this might be the right moment to begin repeating it to myself. Because I still grumble and complain.
To be honest, I would much rather Paul said, “Try to do all things without grumbling or complaining, or without murmurings and disputings, like the King James Version translates it.
Or how about this: “Do most things without murmurings or disputings.” That way I could do most things without complaining, but I still had an out if necessary.
I scoured the Internet for wisdom about complaining. And I found some great stuff that I wanted to share with you this morning. I think you’ll like it:
A man who robbed a Wendy’s in Atlanta was so put off by his skimpy haul that he called the restaurant twice to voice his disapproval.
A man named Arthur Bundrage approached a Syracuse, New York, bank teller and demanded $20,000. When he got home, he discovered he’d been shortchanged. Outraged, he stormed back to the bank to tell them what he thought of their service. That’s when he was arrested.
These are reported events, and the list was endless. But do you know what? All those reported were serious when they made these complaints. They were serious.
And so are we when we complain.
We don’t have that wider perspective that helps us see that we aren’t see things right.
Or that, if we are really upset about something, the best thing to do is communicate it openly and honestly with the person we’re upset with.
Simply complaining about something or someone gives us the appearance that we’re doing something to increase our happiness. But we’re not.
All complaining does is fix our attention on something that makes us unhappy. Who wants that?
That just saps our spiritual energy and makes us feel like throwing in the towel.
If you’re unhappy about something, do something. Say something. Speak up. That’s the way to change something. Don’t just complain.
Paul knew this. He knew that complaining would kill the new Jesus movement faster than Caesar could ever dream.
He knew that Jesus followers would encounter misunderstanding and suspicion and hostility from the world—and each other. He knew that our gut reaction was to complain.
Don’t fall into that trap, he urged the church at Philippi. Don’t complain. Instead thank God for all the blessings in your life. Relationships. Health. Abilities. Friendships. Remember these.
Gratitude is the antidote to complaining.
Gratitude creates spiritual energy and joy. Complaining saps both.
It’s my hope that today we will remember what Paul said about not grumbling or murmuring.
That we will remember instead to be grateful for all the blessings in our lives. Family. Friendships. Freedom. Food. This church. Our beautiful world.
Join me today in giving great thanks to God, from whom all blessings flow.