Most of us, even us “faithful Christians,” are addicted. Our “drug of choice” isn’t Meth, Fentanyl, or even Alcohol- it’s complaining. Think about it: Can you go even one day without complaining about something?
The NT is clear about the need to detoxify ourselves from this very addictive, consuming, and destructive “habit”…
- Jas.5:9, “Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.” The word translated as “complain” is the Greek term stenazo, and refers to a “sigh” or “to groan.”
- Jude 16, “These (“ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” from vv.4ff) are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts, they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.” Here, “grumblers” comes from the word goggustes, which is a murmurer- one who discontentedly complains (especially against God).
- Phil.2:14-15, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” The word translated as grumbling is simply the verb form of the noun used in Jude 16, and means essentially the same.
Since they’re all interrelated and interconnected, let’s just lump complaining, grumbling, murmuring, and groaning altogether and deal with them as the same general “addiction.”
What causes this “addiction”? There are a few clues in the passages above, especially Jude 16. Note: 1) fault-finding in others usually stems from perceived inadequacies in self, so we “feel better” about ourselves by belittling others; 2) lust is inordinate or excessive desire(s) that are typically wrong in the first place, so to get our “fix” for these cravings we 3) speak arrogantly as if “we” aren’t guilty of the same faults we’re complaining about in others; and, 4) flatter the person to whom we’re complaining about a third party in order to gain an advantage. What’s the “root cause” of all these “signs” and “symptoms”? Primarily two things: a skewed and hypocritically entitled view of self, and a general disregard for and disdain of others. Simplified, we care more for and about “self” than anyone and everyone else. So we complain and grumble about everyone and everything that does suit “me.”
How do we “detox” from it? A few things come to mind that will help us (at least I’m going to give them a try!)…
- Remember that “the Judge is standing right at the door” (Jas.5:9) and hears and will “render account” for “every careless word” we speak, Matt.12:36. We may not think our constant grumbling and complaining is a “big deal” (addicts invariable downplay the seriousness and effects of their addiction!), but it’s obvious from 1Cor.10:10-11 that God sees things differently!
- Check “Self” and the arrogant and entitled perspectives that distort a clear view of “me.” Truly seek to emulate Christ by doing “nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself” and to “not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others,” Phil.2:3-4.
- Truly strive “to be content in whatever circumstances I am,” Phil.4:11. “Yes,” I realize Paul was speaking specifically of his financial circumstances, but if he learned to be content “with humble means” (next to nothing but the barest necessities of life, cf. 1Tim.6:7-8), surely I/we can do so when the simplest matters don’t go to suit me/us rather than resorting to our “drugs of choice”- complaining, grumbling, murmuring.
I don’t intend to minimize or downplay “drug addiction” or its devastating effects by this comparison. But I do see myself (and others) being badly “addicted” to constant grumbling and complaining… about virtually everything. “With it (the tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men (or at least complain about them! PCS), who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing (or complaining, PCS). My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” Let’s kick the grumbling and complaining “habit”!