I read an article this week that stated drinking one can of soda a day can have the same aging affect on our body as smoking cigarettes.
It seems we’re always talking about that: what we’re putting in our mouths.
I feel sorry for eggs. Every other year eggs are bad for you. Then they’re good. Then they’re bad again.
We can never make up our minds about eggs.
Eggs are like that really annoying friend that will always come over and help you when you need it, but you never really want to call them because of how annoying they are. Eggs just leave us conflicted.
What’s in our mouths is important, because there’s no denying that our mouths are a gateway into our lives.
With all of effort to understand what’s healthy and what’s not, I’m afraid we’ve overlooked the most toxic thing in our mouths: complaining.
It doesn’t take much of a Bible scholar to know that the Scriptures are pretty clear about complaining:
“Do EVERYTHING without COMPLAINING and arguing.” Philippians 2:14 (NLT)
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t even need to look up the meaning to “everything” to understand that verse.
But we do it. We complain. Incessantly.
We complain about the weather.
We complain about the service and the food at restaurants.
We complain about the President and our government.
We complain about ourselves.
Complaining is toxic. I really think it’s worse that drinking a coke. It will eat you alive on the inside, and you’ll never see it’s side effects coming.
Here are three toxic side effects to complaining:
#1 – Complaining Elevates Your Opinion Over The Truth.
You know what they say about opinions? Everyone has them. You included.
Sometimes your opinions might be right, but if you’re like me – they’re often selfish and just plain wrong.
Here’s a great example of how this works…
Around here we typically experience dry summers. I’ve often heard folks suggest during those dry summers, “It’s so dry. I like these sunny days, but we really need some rain. Why won’t it just rain?”
The Scriptures tell us, “This same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs” in Philippians 4:19.
If the Bible says it, it’s TRUE.
So, if we needed rain (emphasis on NEED), God would give it to us.
The statement “We need rain” is just an opinion, and it disregards the TRUTH that God will provide for us everything that we need. When we allow our opinions about what we “need” to drive our thoughts and conversations, we’re complaining.
Every time we complain, we’re elevating our opinions over the truth.
#2 – Complaining Keeps You From Enjoying What You Have Right Now
Complaining is always born out of the moment.
Things aren’t right. I know it. It should be better. I deserve better!
At least… that’s what we think.
The problem with complaining is that you’re left in the moment, thinking about how that moment should be different, and missing out on what that moment really is leveraging for your life.
Use the same illustration above about weather…
If you’re complaining about the lack of rain, there’s no way to fully enjoy the sunshine.
More importantly… If you’re complaining about how dry it is, there’s no way to thank God for a sunny day!
Our lives should be constantly reflecting on the goodness that God has blessed us with right now, and complaining robs us of that!
#3 – Complaining Infects Your Heart
There’s a deep connection between the quality of our lives and what is going on in our hearts.
Jesus said, “The words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you.” (Matthew 15:18 – NLT)
Complaining is toxic and infects us with a negative, self-centered worldview.
Think about this: How did God punished the nation of Israel for complaining after He delivered them from Egypt and positioned them to take the promise land? He forced them to wander around in the desert until everyone that complained died off!
That’s pretty serious, folks!
If we’re going to be the life-giving church God wants us to be, we’re going to have to carefully guard our hearts and mouths.
Here’s two things to do combat complaining:
#1 – Intentionally Focus On What You Have Right Now.
It’s likely that you’re overlooking a lot you have to be thankful for. Set your opinions aside and embrace the moment that Jesus has given you. Choose to be thankful.
#2 – Address The Condition Of Your Heart First.
If you’re habitually complaining, the problem starts in your heart. So simply trying to stop complaining won’t work. Look into your heart, ask Jesus to show you what’s wrong, confess the sin, ask forgiveness where there needs to be healing, and let Him heal your heart!
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Are you struggling with complaining? How have you noticed it affecting your life? What do you need to change to protect your heart and your life from the toxic effects of complaining?