Complaining…we all do it at one time or another. As I have studied this attitude, I am reminded that an attitude of complaining stems from something deeper, an attitude of ungratefulness. Why is it we are ungrateful? We think we deserve more; we have ourselves on a pedestal. We are ungrateful for what we have and think we deserve more.
There are various verses and stories about complaining in the Bible that I ponder when the Lord convicts me of this sin. The one I go to frequently is the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were friends of Jesus. Martha invited Jesus along with His disciples into their home. She showed hospitality, but then things went downhill. With guests in her home, a meal to be prepared, and no Pizza Hut on speed dial, she had much work to do to prepare the meal. Rather than listen to Jesus as Mary did, Martha scurried around preparing the meal probably muttering under her breath how much work needed to be done and she had to do it all by herself. Eventually, she had enough and she told Jesus she had had enough. Jesus chastised her right there for her wrong priorities. Yet, I often think, “Someone had to prepare the meal.” Martha was complaining because Mary was not living up to Martha’s expectations. We all have multiple people in our lives that do not live up to our expectations, so what do we do about it?
We must ask ourselves a few questions:
- Is the person sinning? Mary was not sinning, far from it she was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Could she be accused of not having a servant’s attitude and being lazy? This is our only story about this, so it does not seem to be a pattern of behavior for Mary. If a pattern is seen, then we ask ourselves the next question.
- Did we talk with the person about the behavior? If this is a onetime occurrence, maybe we need to evaluate our own priorities. If this is a pattern of behavior, then we begin the principles outlined in Matthew 18. Talk with the person. If that does not resolve the issue, take a friend or two. It is not recorded here that Martha even went to Mary. If she had, Mary may have told Martha she would be happy to help, but she wanted to listen for a while.
- What are we assuming about the person? What are our expectations about the person? Have we walked in the other person’s shoes to understand them? Rather than talk about all the injustice, we must let the other person know our thoughts. It may be uncomfortable, but we may see their perspective on the matter. If we continue to complain without talking things over with the other person, are we enabling wrong behavior in them and hurting ourselves with the frequent sin of complaining?
When we complain about the traffic, we show how ungrateful we are for our cars and paved roads. We could have to walk on dirty paths with sandals to get where we are going. When we complain about our house, we show an ungrateful attitude for the house God has given us. I think you get the picture here. When we had multiple showings for our house and I complained, I showed my lack of gratefulness for the traffic we had to look at the house. The overwhelming responsibilities I have right now are many, but when I complain I forget how God brought us here to this place and how He is taking care of me and my family.
We are part of such a selfish society today, and yet when sacrifice is noticed it is highly valued though often times taken advantage of. Rather than complain, be grateful. If a situation arises, do not complain, do something about it. Do we complain because we are lazy ourselves and are afraid to deal with the situation? Above all, we must pray about these situations and let God be our guide.