Wednesday’s Encouraging Word – Stop Complaining

Don't Complain, Be Thankful

“…don’t complain…”  James 5:9 MSG

As we all know, whatever we keep doing, good or bad, becomes a norm, forming a habit in our lives. That’s why James in chapter five, verse nine, cautions believers, “don’t complain.” Making a conscious decision to not complain won’t just make everyone far happier, it will also usher in a change in the atmosphere surrounding us.

Bad Habits Are Like Black Clouds

A habit of complaining is like a big black cloud hanging over our heads. A person doesn’t even have to be present when we complain to pick up on the negative atmosphere that accompanies this habit. I’m sure you’ve met people and thought, Wow, that person is so negative; nothing makes them happy. Without the truth of the Bible, we might think a habit of complaining or being negative is just part of the human personality. That perspective does not agree with what the Word of God says. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “Do not grieve. The joy of the Lord is your strength” (NIV). Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep perfectly peaceful the one whose mind remains focused on you, because he remains in you” (ISV).

Change The Norms!

If we recognize that complaining is a norm, then we need to also recognize that norms are subject to change. Have you ever heard the expression, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”? This expression captures the universal truth that people change norms or habits for lots of reasons. So then, we can adopt new norms—Bible norms! When we do, we will experience Bible realities—more joy, more peace, more success and more positive relationships. People around us will want to spend time in our presence.

So instead of complaining when things go wrong, develop these 5 good norms:

1) Practice having a heart of gratitude – Begin each day by giving thanks for at least three blessings. It will energize you and make you an overall happier person. It’s impossible to be grateful and negative at the same time! Being thankful daily generates a fresh and new perspective that will change the way you look at situations and, more importantly, people around you. Ask yourself this question, “Am I positively or negatively influencing the world around me?” Let it always be positive! Complaining gets you nowhere.

2) Encourage others – Instead of complaining about your own circumstances, how people act or what they do wrong, focus on what they’re doing right. “Encourage…people who are afraid. Help those who are weak. Be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14 NCV). It’s okay to evaluate people’s weaknesses, as long as you balance it with twice as much praise. Instead of complaining, help them develop their weaknesses into strengths.

3) Focus on your successes – Ever thought of starting a journal? If not, how about starting today with a Success Journal? Before bed, write down something encouraging about your day. Perhaps you helped someone with a problem. Did your children achieve something at school? Did you have an uplifting conversation? Perhaps someone patted you on the back for a job well done. Did you see beauty in creation or your surroundings? This list could go on and on.

There’s truth to the old saying, “Nothing succeeds like success.” When you focus on the small successes in your life, you set the stage and precedence for more to follow. The more thankful you are, you create an atmosphere for others hearts to change too.

4) Learn to let go – Instead of obsessing about what you can’t change, focus on what you can—how you can influence the culture around you. When you stop trying to control everything and place your life in God’s hands, then things will always have a way of working out for your good. (Romans 8:28 KJV)

5) Use the power of prayer – Paul says, “pray…on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18 NIV), and do it with a heart of thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6 NKJV). Prayer and thanksgiving changes our focus, diminishes anxiousness, reduces stress, boosts positive energy, promotes health, and produces a keen mental aptitude.

Change Your Focus

So when you’re under pressure, instead of complaining, practice this: Change your focus, be grateful for what you do have, plug into God’s Word and power, and recharge your batteries with the reality of who you are in Christ.