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Complain, complain, complain. I get so sick of it. Truth is, sometimes I get sick of hearing it come out of my own mouth. Back in 2007, Reverend Will Bowen of Kansas City decided there was too much complaining. He asked his congregation to take a 21-day pledge to stop complaining, criticizing, gossiping or using sarcasm. People were given a purple wristband as a reminder of their pledge. If they caught themselves complaining, they took off the bracelet, switched it to the opposite wrist and started counting the days from scratch. The campaign become a movement and had immediate and long-term effects.

I know we shouldn’t ignore problems. There is a place to discuss our problems, concerns and stresses in a healthy context in order to deal with them effectively. What I am referring to here is chronic, habitual complaining.

One of the groups most notoriously known for their complaining is the Israelites. Recorded in the book of Numbers, they complained about:

  • Their hardships
  • Their food and drink
  • The place where God placed them
  • Their leaders
  • God’s plan for their lives

Behind these complaints lie the sins of:

  • Complaining to others instead of going to God
  • Lusting after things they didn’t have and refusing to believe God would provide
  • Rebelling against God’s chosen leaders
  • Displaying greed for power and authority
  • Blaming others for their own troubles and failing to recognize their problems were brought on by their own disobedience
  • Failing to trust God

What about us?

Complaining is contagious. It influences the minds and well-being of those we love by spreading negativity. It raises doubt and suspicion towards people. It causes people to question God when we are called to build their faith. It fuels thoughts of entitlement. Chronic complaining causes us to focus on the negative. It drains energy level and productivity. It makes our lives miserable.

How can we break the habit?

  1. Pay attention to your words. Ask God to show you when you are complaining and accept responsibility. If there is a need to make a change, do something about it.
  2. Change the way you think. We’re not going to control what comes out of our mouth if we don’t control what’s in our thoughts and heart. Proverbs 23 states, “Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips.”
  3. Keep your perspective by keeping a list of things you are grateful for. At the end of each day, write down three things you are thankful for or three good things that happened that day. The key is to them write down.

In reading Numbers, we see that God dealt swiftly and severely with these sins. What if God dealt with us the way He did with the Israelites? Maybe He will.

Eph. 4:29 – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who may listen.”