Monday, January 30, 2012

You Want Some Cheese with that Whine?

     There are a few things in life that set most people's teeth on edge:  a scraping sound across a black board, an incessant honking horn because someone hit their button and now cannot find out how to turn it off, loud airboats going across a lake in the early morning hours (especially while people are trying to sleep here in Florida), a dog barking nonstop, and people whining and complaining.  The last one is particularly annoying because there doesn't seem to be any way to help the person find joy in living.  Everything is negative and nothing seems to please them.  I know all about this because I have done more than my fair share in complaining.  In fact, we "all fall short of the glory of God" in this department.  A co-worker once said, "Do you want some cheese with that whine?"  It was a point well made.
     Here is the way it usually happens.  We complain because we do not have a job.  Then, when God gives us a job, we complain because we don't  a) like the hours  b) like all that we are asked to do or c) we are not being paid enough for our work.  Never mind that thousands don't have a job and would give anything to make something!  The same goes for those who are workers at home.  While homemakers are not paid for their work, they have the privilege of working at their own pace and setting their own agenda.  However, we hear them complain about a) no one appreciates what I do  b) no one helps me which leads in both cases (those with jobs or homemakers) to c) "poor me".
     Self-pity, whining, and complaining accomplishes nothing and is a grating sound in the ears of God.  Consider the Children of Israel as Moses led them out of captivity.  They complained because they did not have food like they had in Egypt despite the fact that they were slaves there.  So, God in His mercy gave them manna in the wilderness to meet their needs.  However, this was not good enough for them so they whined that they wanted meat.  Once again, God gave them the desires of their heart and provided quail for them to eat.  Then, they complained because they had no water.  God, again, provided for this need.  His long-suffering is amazing to me.  I don't think most of us could ever endure such an ungrateful people.  In fact, God did get angry and some of His people were destroyed (Numbers 11:1-4). Yet, the Lord was merciful when Moses interceded for the people.  This example gives us a picture of the ugly sin nature.
     In the Bible, we see many verses that deal with this issue.  Philippians 2:14 reads:  "Do all things without grumbling or questioning."  Ephesians 4:29:  "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."
James 5:9:  "Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the
Judge is standing at the door."  These are just a few of the verses that warn us about the sin of whining and complaining.  This is one area we need to work on daily.  If we do not, there will always be consequences.  For example, marriage relationships can be damaged when either husband or wife spends all their time complaining about what the other person is or is not doing.  In working relationships, tension builds and leads to an unhappy atmosphere at work.  Most importantly, our witness is damaged when we spend our day whining about all our problems as though no one else has any.  So what are we to do?
     Initially, we need to recognize that we are caught up in this web of sin.  We must repent and ask for God's forgiveness but also for the Spirit's help in overcoming this area.  We need to be able to say as the Apostle Paul did in his letter to the Philippians 4:11-12:  "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound.  In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need."  If anyone had the right to complain, it might have been Paul.  He was beaten, shipwrecked,
bitten by a poisonous snake and imprisoned.  However, he found God's grace to be sufficient in all circumstances, and he learned to be content.  This needs to be a goal if we are ever to avoid complaining.
     Secondly, we need to learn to hold our tongue, transform our mind through prayer and Bible study, and actively look for ways to be positive.  The Bible tells us:  "A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones" (Proverbs 17:22).  We should all want the good medicine!  But some will can I be cheerful when my world is crashing in?  Let me ask a question:  Will complaining change your circumstances?  Wouldn't it be better to give it to the Lord and praise Him even during the difficult places?  Complaining and whining only bring us down and those around us.
     Finally, we have to recognize that in order to be a reflection of Jesus Christ to a world in need we must give up our rights and live in obedience to the Lord even as Jesus did.  Paul wrote:  "Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made; Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Phil. 2:5-8).  He is our example.  We are to imitate
Him and reflect His glory.  He died for us that we might have life and have it abundantly.  How can we then complain and whine?
     Certainly, life is not fair and there are many things in this sinful world which cause us pain.  Nevertheless, our goal should be to praise Him through the storms.  As we lift Him up, He will lift us up and give us hope.  Likewise, we will have more fruitful relationships with others both at work and in our homes.  After all, do we really want someone to ask us if we want some cheese with our whine?  Selah!
I welcome your thoughts here.  Please leave a comment or share how you have overcome complaining in your life.  Blessings!


Pam said...

I, too, have been guilty of whining and complaining. And yet, when other people do it, I think, "Such is life. Get over it." LOL! Praying that God will help all of us to be better followers. Thanks, Barbara!

Barbara Thayer said...

Thank you dear Pam. Yes, we all need encouragement and help in this area. I am so glad that the Lord never gives up on us! He is gracious in every way! Blessings to you and thanks for the visit!