All of us, of course, know some complainers. Every morning when I look into the mirror I see a complainer. And if you are honest with yourself, you probably also see someone who complains from time to time when you look into the mirror.
What prompted my thinking about this matter of complaining was an episode of Gunsmoke I recently watched on TV. You may or may not know the characters of this old TV series that those of us who are older watched as children, but I chuckled when Doc observed that “Chester is never happy unless he has something to complain about.” It was an overstatement for sure, but most of us know people who do seem to be happy only when they have something to complain about.
To complain is to “express dissatisfaction or annoyance about something” and a complainer is “a person given to excessive complaints and crying and whining.” Another word often used for complain is to grumble. One definition of to grumble is “to complain about something in a bad-tempered way.”
In the Old Testament books of Exodus and Numbers the writer repeatedly tells of the Children of Israel’s grumbling. They grumbled against Moses (Exodus 15:24 and 17:3), against Moses and Aaron (Exodus 16:2 and Numbers14:2), and against God (Exodus 16:7 and Numbers 14:27). Clearly their grumbling prevented them from realizing how blessed they were and from expressing gratitude.
In the New Testament the Apostle Paul instructs and challenges the Christians in Philippi, “Do everything without grumbling” (Philippians 2:14). The New Living Translation substitutes arguing for grumbling. One observer notes about the verse, “The immediate context is work within the local church and the body of believers. However, the intent is clearly meant to include all of a Christian’s life.”
I don’t think complaining and grumbling is always out of place or inappropriate, but it certainly can be. You can request that your order in a restaurant be corrected without really complaining. But when grumbling is excessive it not only robs us of enjoyment and pleasure, it also robs others who are with us.
One writer I read suggests, “It does no one any good to be a complainer.” The key word in this suggestion is the word complainer; I think we all would agree that there are clearly times when a complaint does do some good – especially if it is done in an appropriate way. I confess, my problem is that there are times when I overdo it when I complain.
The unknown writer I just quoted also makes three other statements about complaining that are worth hearing and considering: “Constant complaining wears thin quickly. If you have an ax to grind, don’t bore others with it. It is far better to go to the source of your problem and seek to resolve things personally.”
I think Doc was wrong when he said, “Chester is never happy unless he has something to complain about.” As a matter of fact, I think he was complaining about Chester. What do you think?
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