Before You Complain
by Jacob Hudgins
“Do all things without complaining and disputing”(Phil 2:14)
Complaining is a universal problem. Dissatisfied with life, or people, or ourselves, we give voice to our deep frustration. God’s command here forbids complaining—not simply expressing disappointment or describing a negative situation, but the habit of using the tongue to bite and devour others and rail against God. Here are some things to consider before you complain.
Have I tried to solve the problem? Jesus says that finding solutions between people is a higher priority than worship: “First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift”(Matt 5:24). Are we making the problem better—or simply complaining, and thereby making it worse?
What is my motivation? Complaining can sometimes serve a constructive purpose: “Now in those days…there arose a complaint…because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution”(Acts 6:1). This complaint had a direction, and went to the right people. Yet complaints that spring from selfish grudges, or a desire to tear others down, or just to have something to do should be stopped before they reach our lips.
Am I indicting God? Some complaints—like those regarding our lot in life or the leadership God has ordained—are statements against God Himself! We might not like God’s running of the universe, but we should think twice before expressing disagreement. “Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things?”(Matt 20:15)
Have I considered other sides? Others do not always have our perspective, or knowledge, or experience (Rom 14:14). It could even be—gasp!—that they are right! Have we thought this through?
Is it worth saying? Our words are expected to edify others (Eph 4:29), and we will give account of them (Matt 12:36). Is this complaint something we are willing to answer to God for? If in doubt, why not stop before we complain?
Complaining is serious business. Before you complain, think about it!