Have you ever considered the difference between “expressing yourself”, and complaining? The Bible clearly teaches that complaining is not an acceptable practice. But what about just “expressing yourself” or “sharing from your heart”?
I believe that there is a place for sharing unpleasant experiences with others, but we must be very careful with this. Sometimes it would seem that we Christians just use such phrases as euphemisms to make us feel better about what we area actually doing. Complaining.
I think the main difference between appropriate sharing and complaining is basically the absence of two things: humility and genuine thankfulness.
When we are complaining we are usually failing to see the bigger perspective. We are giving in to self-pity and this means a lack of humility that our circumstances, no matter how painful or difficult, are still being used by God for our good.
Giving in to the temptation to complain also means that we have lost a heart of gratitude and a thankful spirit, which honors God.
We need to cultivate hearts of humility and genuine thankfulness. God actually “opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble”. (This is frightening thought!)
To further guard ourselves against the temptation to complain we would do well to honestly ask ourselves a couple of questions before sharing that frustrating situation with someone else.
How would sharing this information with this person help the situation? Contrary to popular opinion, sharing something with another person doesn’t always help. Sometimes we think that “just talking about it” will automatically help. While in some situations it can help, if the person has some wise insight to share or is able to just listen without getting totally ticked off themselves, but this isn’t always true. Sometimes it’s best to just forget an offense, pray about it and move on.
Is it likely that sharing this information with this person would harm them? (ie. cause them to complain)? We shouldn’t “just vent” to people without thinking about where they are at in their walk of faith or how it could effect them. That’s just selfish. We should consider the emotional/spiritual health and maturity of the person we are talking to before we share things. It is possible for us to be sharing from a place of humility and thankfulness, but yet to still hurt someone else who isn’t mature enough to handle that information.
James 1:26 says “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless”! We Christians cannot allow ourselves to think it’s OK to complain. After all, Jesus has poured out an incredible amount of mercy on us. We are forgiven! We are the last people in the world who should be complaining! Let’s guard our tongues and give our Savior the praise he deserves. Even when we are suffering.
Do you find yourself quick to complain? How can you cultivate more thankfulness and humility in your heart?