Do you habitually complain, whine, argue and grumble? Do you know anyone who does not? It seems to have become a habit for many of us. By the way, the word “murmurings” refers to the complaints of the Israelites during their wanderings. You may know murmurings as being critical of others, bitterness, bickering, protesting or being unsociable. Pessimism. Negativity. In the New Testament, Paul said: “Do you do all things without murmuring and disputing?”
Have you noticed that many people get caught up in heated and unending political discussions? — lots of murmurings going on there. Our change in government has caused new policies and procedures being enacted or offered – big time murmurings at home and the office. Don’t forget the economy or loss of jobs grumble – layoffs are increasing – homes are foreclosed. There are countless things to whine and be bitter about and protest against. It hasn’t been easy for anyone.
Paul the Apostle, in his ministry while traveling and visiting many countries, cites in one of his directives, a Letter to the Philippians, (2:14) — “Do all things without murmuring and disputing”.
You may not be aware of Paul of Tarsus, also called Paul the Apostle, who really was a Hellenistic Jew who called himself the “Apostle to the Gentiles”. Along with Peter, the Rock upon which Jesus’ church is built, he was among the most notable of early Christian missionaries.
Paul’s conversion to a follower of Christ is a profound story of faith. He spread Christanity by accounts of his travels which are found as Letters in the New Testament of the Bible and are full of expositions of what Christians should believe and how they should live.
What do we do in answer to Paul’s instruction – not to complain in all things. Sometimes it’s hard not to vent. Sometimes it feels good to get it off your chest. It’s hard to comply with the old adage, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at a ll.” How can we tweak that?
We could say, “If you can only say something negative, don’t say anything at all”. Negative begets negative. Positive begets positive. It’s difficult to be positive when things are looking bleak, but does it help to heap more negativity on the pile?
It can become a habit to view everything with a sour outlook which becomes a bitterness and creates more murmurings. There’s little worse than facing each day with doom and gloom. Becoming embittered won’t change the price of gasoline or bring the prices down. It won’t change the politics of the day or create a new healthcare plan.
Listen to yourself and see how you approach these subjects. Do you always say things like, “I’m afraid that….” or “I know that things are going to get worse before they get better”…..or “I hate this or I hate that or I hate them or I hate him ….” or “That’s BS” or “they’re stupid” or “they are such a bunch of #&%$’s. And the beat goes on and the words become more heated and your murmurings may keep you from sleeping well at night. Your fear and hate will become self-fulfilling. You are what you think.
We can offset these complaints by offering words of kindness and compassion and hope. Change your heart and you will change your attitude. Kind thoughts and acts will replace your habits of negative thoughts. Negative and positive thoughts cannot share the same space in your mind. Crowd out those negative ones. God is still in control and local, national and world events are not as hopeless as we make them. Many others before us have lived through challenging times; bad times seem to be cyclical and eventually change from bad to good.
Be an agent for change. They say if you force yourself to smile, you will feel uplifted. A smile is the lighting system of the face. It sure beats the frowns and growls. Smiles beget smiles. Maybe your co-worker or spouse or friend is tired of ‘murmuring’ or listening to yours, too, and you can make the difference to change that.
Don’t get bogged down by the signs of the times. If you are spiritual, try to maintain a cheerful, willing mind, as we do what God has instructed. “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life…” (Phil. 2:14-16a).
Fill your spirit with Paul’s teaching: “Do all things without murmuring and disputing”. It can work and all you have to lose are your frown lines.