I’ve heard a few descriptions on how sin begins. Sin begins with pride. Sin begins with covetousness. Sin begins with idolatry.
If we must trace the very root of sin, we must go to pride. We think we should be the ruler of our own lives. We think we know better than God. But if I think back to all the times I’ve done something that dishonored the name of Christ and hurt those around me, the first sign that I had was my own complaining.
We are warned in the Bible not to complain. Philippians 2:14 tells us to do all things without grumbling or complaining. Complaining indicates that we don’t really think God is doing right by us. Our grumbling and complaining tell us what we think we deserve. We think we deserve more free time, more comfort, more respect.
In my own life, when I think of things I did that brought dishonor to the name of Christ and hurt myself and those around me, the first sign I had was my own complaining—either complaining out loud to others, or murmuring quietly to myself.
I’ve heard and read discussions on ways we can stop complaining. We need to focus on God’s goodness. We need to look toward our ultimate reward. In The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, Jeremiah Burroughs spends 20 pages listing 22 ways we can gain contentment. All of these are good suggestions.
I think, though, that we often skip right to “how to stop complaining,” and don’t focus on why we’re complaining in the first place. Our complaints show us our deepest desires. It reveals the ways we think God is holding out on us and shows us things we might be willing sin in order to attain.
I’m not going to end with a list of 10 (or 22) ways to stop complaining, as much as I personally need that lecture. But I think it helps me to think about the why behind my complaints.
My complaining tells me…
What I think I deserve
How I think God is holding out on me
What I think I need that God isn’t giving me
What I might be willing to sin to attain
We shouldn’t complain because it dishonors God and questions his goodness. But our complaints also give us a window to our deepest desires. What complaints do we need to turn over to God?