The Spiritual Bondage Behind Complaining and Why We Must Be Rid of It

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There are times where I find social media to be more toxic than helpful, especially at times when all that seem to make their way into my news feed are complaints about practically anything—work, school, parents, church, government, fashion, movies, and many other things.

Complaining seems to be an inborn human reflex, and it's already been accepted as a norm in many circles. There's nothing wrong about pointing out flaws to make things better, but sometimes we find that our complaining goes beyond just wanting to see improvement. Sometimes it comes out of a critical spirit that just finds satisfaction in putting other things and people down.

Why do chronic and toxic complainers complain? When I catch people (or sometimes even myself) complaining for the wrong reasons, I am reminded always of the people of Israel as they were led by Moses. Nothing was ever good enough for them. When given miraculous provision, they would prefer something else. When faced with imminent danger, they would grumble thinking God wanted them to die when it was God that rescued them in the first place.

Complaining and grumbling come out of a desire to be the centre of the universe. We want everything to go exactly the way we want it just like what the Israelites did as they traversed the wilderness. Sadly, it was their way that kept them in the wilderness for 40 years. When we are bound to a habit of complaining, we just might find ourselves in the same position as the Israelites—stuck and lost.

At the heart of complaining is an idolatry and selfishness that lead us to desire our ways over those of other people and even God. It leads us to despise submission and humility. Matthew 23:12 reminds us, however, "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

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If not in complaining, how then should we respond to any given circumstance? 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 gives us the best alternative: "Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

The alternative to grumbling and complaining is to humbly accept that things don't always go our way and that we are to be thankful still. This leads us then to act in prayer and gratitude instead of complaining.

Everything we have is simply because of the grace of God. We don't deserve any of it. We are never entitled to the grace of God. He just gives it freely. When we complain we actually grumble over something that was never meant to be ours anyways. But through God's mercy in Christ, we are given this generous privilege to share in all of God's blessings.

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