One day when I was reading my Bible I got up to go and get a drink and without really thinking about mumbled to myself, “Man, I’m tired and I don’t feel good.” Immediately after saying that I said, “That’s not true” and it wasn’t. I wasn’t tired and I didn’t feel bad. I was complaining out of nothing more than habit.
I don’t know how it is in other countries but in America it seems as if complaining is the national pastime. If you turn on the news you find democrats complaining about the republicans, the republicans are complaining about the democrats. We complain about the weather, the economy, the politicians, our jobs and the roads. You name it and we complain about it. We are chronic complainers.
There are five basic types of chronic complainers.
The Whiner. You can tell the whiner by the way they complain about life not being fair. The whiner spends his or her time complaining that life isn’t fair, everybody else gets all the breaks, I really don’t deserve this.
The Martyr. The martyr’s favorite phrase is, “No one appreciates me.” Martyrs are experts at having pity parties for themselves. They want everyone to know about all the stress they are under, all that they are doing and how no one ever really helps them out.
The Cynic. The cynic has resigned himself that nothing will ever change. This is just the best it will ever get. Why bother trying to do anything differently? Solomon’s attitude in much of the book of Ecclesiastes is a good example of a cynic. Everything is meaningless, nothing matters, and it will never change so why try.
The Perfectionist or Nit-picker. For the nit-picking perfectionist nothing is ever good enough. The nit-picking perfectionist prides themselves on being able to find the flaws in anything that is done. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, you will never please a nit-picking perfectionist.
The Negative Nelly. The Negative Nelly can see the cloud behind every silver lining. As the name implies a Negative Nellie is always negative. They have a negative comment about everything. The favorite sayings of the Negative Nelly are, “I’m not trying to be negative”, “I’m just being realistic.” Or, “I’m just being honest.”
Now, there is a difference between someone who is genuinely talking about a problem and someone who is a chronic complainer. There are a couple of ways you can tell a chronic complainer from someone with a problem. One way you can tell the difference is in the desire for a solution. When someone has a genuine problem they desire a solution to this problem and will listen and evaluate the solutions you offer. When someone is a chronic complainer they really don’t want a solution. All they really want to do is whine, complain and play the martyr. So they will reject any solution you offer immediately.
Another way you can tell the difference between someone with a problem and a chronic complainer is in the frequency of the complaints. I know that people go through periods of time where problems pile up and that is one thing. But it’s something totally different when every time you see someone they have a complaint about something. Chances are some of us know people like this. You’ve known them for 10 years and in 10 years they haven’t gotten a decent night’s sleep, had a decent meal at a restaurant, went a day without a problem on their job or had a decent vacation. For the chronic complainer there is always something to complain about.
A last way I think you can tell the difference between someone with a problem and a chronic complainer is the way you feel after talking to them. When you talk to someone with a problem, their problem(s) may be so overwhelming that they drain you physically, spiritually and emotionally, but they don’t suck the life out of you. On the other hand after you’ve talked to a chronic complainer you feel like the life force has been sucked right out of your life. You usually leave a discussion with a chronic complainer feeling discouraged and depleted because of their chronic complaining.
Complaining has become so common in our culture that we really don’t think anything about it. We dismiss it by saying that’s just how some people are, or that’s just the way it is and we go one. We really don’t see it as much of a problem. But what does the Bible say?
“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,” Philippians 2:14-15 (NKJV)
We are commanded to do everything without complaining and arguing. Here’s what is crazy about this. It says everything. The best I can tell there are no qualifiers for this. This isn’t, do everything for God without complaining. It’s not, do everything in church without complaining. It’s not, do everything for your family without complaining. That would be tough, but not nearly as tough as what it actually says. Because what it says is do EVERYTHING without complaining. What we are being commanded here is not to complain about anything.
As followers of Christ we really are to do everything without griping and complaining. We are given the reasons for this here. The first is so that no one can criticize us. But the second and maybe most important reason is so that we will stand out from the world.
We are to do all things without murmuring and complaining so that it will shine like lights in the midst of a dark world and it will be obvious we are the children of God. The picture here is that those who don’t know Jesus and live in spiritual darkness will be chronic complainers. When believers aren’t chronic complainers like everyone else it will make us stand out from everyone else.
For further study read Numbers 11:1-20. What was God’s attitude about their constant complaining? How did their constant complaining affect those who heard them? Do you fit in with the world because you are a chronic complainer or do you stand out from the world because you aren’t a chronic complainer?