Read: Ephesians 4:25-32
A long time ago I heard of a Christian group called Building 429. I heard their music on the radio & when they played a concert at a college near me, I was one of the chaperones who accompanied the youth group. At that time, I actually got a chance to meet them and when I heard how they chose the name of their group and the verse from which they got their name, that story has stuck with me. Building 429 chose their name because of Ephesians 4:29. They want to be a band that builds up and edifies others.
This verse has also shown up in other ways throughout the last few years. I have seen that some people have made a 30-day challenge out of the verse. Spend one month not complaining, not venting, only speaking of others to edify or build them up.
For years, I have thought about this year. I have attempted at times to live out this verse, but usually I fail miserably within a day. Not complaining is really hard to do. “They” say that everyone needs to vent, but venting is just complaining and complaining doesn’t edify. Complaining tears down. It doesn’t build up.
For last few weeks, this verse has come to mind every single day as I’m surrounded by people who when they talk to me they do nothing but complain.
Complaining tears down. There are four things that complaining tears down.
- Other people
When we complain about others (whether directly or indirectly) we are hurting that person. How would you feel if you walked into a room and heard someone complaining about the meal you made or the way you folded the towels or how you talk non-stop? It would hurt you and more than likely you would get angry, right? Well, that’s how others feel we complain about them.
Most of us don’t realize that when we complain we are also tearing down ourselves. I recently read an article about venting that talked about a research study that has proven that venting is not good for us. The more we vent the more negative our thinking becomes. Complaining usually comes from selfishness. Usually when we complain about something it is because we don’t usually get our way or because we feel bad about ourselves and want to make ourselves feel better. The problem with this is that we usually end up feeling worse.
- Our relationships with others
Let’s face it. Nobody likes to be around people who complain, but we all do it. Complaining is contagious. One person starts. Then someone else goes, and it is can turn into a never-ending cycle of negativity.
Yes, we need to be real and authentic in our relationships so I’m not saying that you should pretend that everything is perfect. When you are struggling with something whether it is your health, your relationships or something totally different, it is okay to share and to ask for prayer, but that is totally different that just sitting around griping and complaining and not doing anything about it.
- Our relationship with the Lord
Complaining also damages our relationship with the Lord. Ephesians 4:30 tells us that complaining grieves the Holy Spirit. When we complain we are telling the Lord that we don’t like how He does things, but I don’t think that is what really grieves the Lord. I think that when we complain we grieve Him because we are doing the opposite of being love to others. When we complain, we are rude and unkind. We are frequently doing it to be boastful and selfish, and these things are not the fruit of the Spirit.
So what do we do to stop complaining?
- Spend time in the Word.
Spending time in the Word consistently is essential if you want to become more positive and build others up, but it is not just reading the Word that is going to change you. It is spending time in prayer. It is spending time studying the Word. It is asking the Lord to change you.
- Post a reminder of Ephesians 4:29 somewhere in your house, in your car, in your office so that you can see it every day.
Post a reminder of Ephesians 4:29 everywhere you spend time. Read it. Memorize it and live it.
- Keep a complaint journal.
I know we are talking about how to quit complaining and here I am telling you to keep a complaint journal, but here is why: Writing down your complaint does not have the same impact as saying it out loud. So when you feel like complaining…write it down. Then take that complaint & do one out of two things. 1) Tear it up, burn it, throw darts at it, destroy it. Or 2) next to that complaint write down 5 things that you like about the person you were complaining about or 5 things that you liked about the meal or 5 things you like whatever it is that you are complaining about.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
Keep a gratitude journal. Start looking for the good in everyday and looking for the good in everyone. It is there. You just have to look.
- Every time you find yourself starting to complain find a way to change it to a compliment or something that will build up that person.
There is such a thing as constructive criticism. You can tell someone that you don’t like the way that they do something without complaining. So when you feel like complaining, find a way to turn it into something that helps the other person and builds that person up instead of tearing them down.
Complaining is toxic. It is toxic to other people, to ourselves, and to our relationships, and we are called not to tear people down but to lift them up and edify them. We are called to be different from the world that only seeks to raise itself up. We are called to help others, to serve others, and to lift up others so let’s look for the good in the day. Let’s look for the joy in the mourning. Let’s look for what is right in this world instead of focusing so much on what is wrong. Let’s be the ones who always see the silver lining.