It is a fact that we all have frustrations in life. We are just not satisfied with the way things are going. While this feeling is normal, it must be arrested quickly or it will lead to something more serious. There are many ways by which we can vent our feeling of frustrations. We can express it in the form of lamentation where we pour out our hearts before God. But just like what King David did in the Book of Psalms, our lamentation should end in praise and full trust in God. The other way by which we vent our frustration is by complaining. Some express their complaints strongly while others do it gently. Regardless, the Apostle Paul’s command is to “do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation” (Phil. 2:14-15).
Is it possible to do everything without complaining? The obvious answer is no. However, the context of the Apostle Paul’s command was that, as believers, we should obey the Lord’s command without complaining because these commands are not burdensome. We should also not argue about it but rather desire to excel in obedience. As we serve the Lord, we should do so cheerfully, willingly and wholeheartedly. To do otherwise will bring unnecessary burdens that eventually result in complaining, murmuring and arguing. For those who chose to complain, everything is burdensome because they will be doing things with a heavy heart. No wonder we often see complainers drag their feet and slam doors even when doing their chores for the Lord.
The command not to complain was given for good reasons. Complaining gets us nowhere. This truth was emphasized by the Lord when Moses chose to complain to him rather than do something about the predicament he was in. God told him, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14:15-16). Had Moses remained in that complaining mode, he and the Israelites would have been swallowed up by the Egyptians who were chasing them. Joshua had the same experience after their defeat in their battle against Ai. Joshua chose to complain before God but God said, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned…. Go, consecrate the people” (Joshua 7:10-13). Complaining is of no help in our desire to achieve something. Rather, it immobilizes or cripples us.
Complaining also brings judgment. James said, “Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!” (James 5:9) Complaining and grumbling destroys relationships and nobody suffers more than the complainer. This was the case of Aaron and Miriam when they complained against their brother Moses. They said, “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” (Numbers 12:2) This complaint did not escape the attention of the Lord. The Lord’s anger burned against them, and he left them. When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous—it became as white as snow. It does not pay to complain – it separates us from God. When the Lord leaves us it means trouble.
Complaining is infectious. It spreads quickly if not stopped. The catastrophic effect of complaining can be seen in the lives of the Israelites when they were wandering in the desert. While all the spies sent to check the Promised Land agreed that the land was good and fruitful, ten of them spread a bad report saying, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” (Num. 13:31). Like an infectious disease that spread quickly, it caused the whole community to grumble saying, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness…..Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:2-3) And because of this complaining and murmuring, the Lord decreed: “Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun” (v. 30).
Even these days, complaining leads us nowhere and the complainer suffers the most. It is best then that we heed the admonition of the apostle Paul to do everything without complaining. This is particularly so when we cannot do anything concerning the matter about which are complaining. Let us put our trust in the Lord and obey his commands. Let us appreciate everything that we received from him, and if we have not received any yet, let us keep waiting. Meantime, let us avoid complaining. Hallelujah!