Do not complain

The Declaration of Independence of the United States tells us that “all men are created equal.”   But when it comes to complaining, not all complaints are created equal.   Some complaints are valid and can be helpful, while others only serve to increase division and animosity.

First, there are constructive complaints, which can help to make a positive change.   For example, you might say, “This is getting us nowhere.   We keep doing it the same way, but we’re not seeing any results.”   This kind of complaining has the potential to evolve into a brainstorming session that results in constructive action steps.

Then there is venting.   Venting can be either helpful or harmful.   As the word implies, people vent to relieve the pressure caused by an ongoing challenge.   Getting your thoughts out in the open can help reduce your frustration.   It can help you calm down, especially when you have a patient, compassionate listener.   At the same time, constant venting risks turning into whining, and constant whining wears everyone out—including the one who is venting.

Then there’s the worst kind.   When James tells us not to complain about each other, he is talking about complaints that are made without love and without purpose.   Complaints like these do more harm than good.   Oftentimes, they arise from a desire to hurt someone.   This kind of complaining strips life of its pleasure and leaves us trapped in a negative, cynical disposition.

Today, let’s ask ourselves,  “Do my complaints tend to be specific and constructive, or are they general and vague?”   Questions like these can help us uncover hidden thoughts and fears that are weighing us down.   This is where the Holy Spirit wants to help.   He has the power to soothe us, to remind us of God’s care for us, and to give us a sense of hope and trust.   Best of all, he can remind us that Jesus is kind and merciful and that he is always ready to help us with our challenges.

So the next time you find yourself complaining, try to quiet yourself, and let the Spirit soothe your heart.

word among us