Quit Your Bellyaching
by: Jane Olson
In The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis describes a grumbling spirit who finds herself in hell. A lifelong habit of complaining consumed her entire personality. Eventually, there was nothing left of her but a grumble, “going on forever like a machine.”
It’s tempting to think that complaining is no big deal because it seems like a natural response to disappointment or frustration. But complaining is a cancer on our spiritual life. It is the symptom of an unhealthy sense of pride, and it signals a profound ingratitude for what God in his providence is doing in our lives.
Paul follows the Christ-hymn with the exhortation to “do everything without grumbling.” The connection is clear: if we truly understand what Jesus did to reconcile us to God, we will be filled with such gratitude and joy that we will humbly endure difficult circumstances without complaining. More than that, we will serve others, even if they don’t appreciate it, because we desire to show the world the same love that Christ showed to us.
When we grumble, we reveal the real motivations for our service: self-glorification and self-satisfaction. Complaining flows from a feeling of entitlement—from the belief that we are getting less than we deserve. But a Christian remembers that were it not for Christ’s loving sacrifice all we would deserve is hell. This humility allows us to swallow our pride and be thankful.
Reflect: When you are tempted to complain, compare your discomfort to what Christ endured for you.