On Sunday, I preached from Exodus and talked about the problem the Israelites had with grumbling. Despite God’s amazing deliverance and provision for them, they seemed to find something new to complain about. Like the children of Israel, we can easily fall into a pattern of complaining and criticizing. It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are three things you can do to change the pattern.
- Be self-aware. “Complaining is like bad breath, you notice it when it comes out of somebody else’s mouth, but not your own.” (Will Bowen) A lot of times, we just aren’t aware of how much we might be complaining or how it sounds to others. Pay attention to yourself and find out just how often you complain about something – or be brave and ask a family member for feedback.
- Watch out who you hang out with. There are some atmospheres that breed discontent. The Bible is clear that we should be careful about the people we associate with. Conversations can quickly turn into gripe sessions if we are with the wrong people. Paul reminds us that “Bad company corrupts morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) Think about the people you spend time with and the content of your discussions.
- Count your blessings. There is no need to minimize our needs or concerns because we can face real challenges. When we get our eyes on the greatness and goodness of God, it helps to calm our fears. When we remember that God has already blessed us with every “heavenly blessing” (Ephesians 1:3), we can be confident that he will provide in the future. Take time to count your blessings and recount how God has acted in the past. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
It’s not easy to change some of our more harmful patterns. Getting rid of toxic thoughts and language can be difficult. Thankfully, the Spirit who lives within us is more than willing to help empower us for transformation. We just need to start asking for his help.