Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Contagiousness of Complaining

Years ago I worked in an office with a lot of other women.  In fact, I worked in several such offices and one thing was always common.  If one woman started complaining about something—everyone else joined in with their complaints.  It was as if the very act of complaining was contagious.

Many was the time I would go to work feeling quite content with the world and all that was in it.  I would go to work determined to be a positive influence and show a contented spirit.  Then break time would roll around and I would share the company of other people and when the complaining started, my positive spirit took damage.  Before I knew it, I was focusing on the negative things of life – the hopeless things I could do nothing about – the terrible and heartbreaking things that threatened all happiness and peace of mind.
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn't perfect by any means.  Often, I was the one complaining first.  Often I didn't go to work with a positive attitude or a loving heart.  The same was true for my attitude and spirit at home.  It only took a little of the poison produced by complaining to spread the disease throughout my family.
One person can wield a lot of power and never even know it.  They can set the stage—the atmosphere for their surroundings with the simplest of negative comments and before you realize it, the entire household or office has caught the contagiousness of complaining and you have an epidemic on your hands.

In Exodus you can read about the Israelites being freed from Egyptian slavery.  God did miraculous things in order to get them released from Pharaoh’s control.  He sent incredible plagues yet protected them from the results and parted the Red Sea for them to pass safely.  Yet in spite of this, just days out of Egypt they started complaining. And that complaining spread quickly to make a most unhappy whiny bunch of folks.  They complained about food, water, housing, health, their surroundings and the list goes on and on.  I like to think I would have been one who wouldn't have complained…but I know better.  I would no doubt have been right there with the loudest – voicing my opinion.
One of the worst places I've seen for complaining—a place where it spreads terrible damage—is in the church.  
 The people attending complain about the sermon or the color of the carpet or the fact that pews have been replaced with chairs.  They complain about the lack of classes and community outreach or they complain because there are too many classes and too much focus on outreach. They complain about the music and the translation of the Bible that the pastor uses. The pastor and teachers aren’t immune to this disease either. They complain about the people and their lack of understanding or interest.  They complain about the size of the congregation, the small amount in the offering plate, the size of the building, and the list goes on and on.  Sometimes they complain about the complaining.
The one place where complaining should be absent is the very place where it breeds the most contempt.  And why is that?  Because that’s the very place Satan wants to corrupt.  God’s people, gathering to worship and honor God, and draw closer to Him in praise and prayer. Satan hates it when we do that and longs to tear us apart and destroy that fellowship.  And with complaining—he does just that.
Having caught this sickness more than once, I can say without any doubt that there is only one cure and that is a heart transplant.  We need God to put into us a new heart—a heart that is focused on Him—a heart that seeks to separate us from the world and all its negativity.  Complaining is a part of this life, just like other disease and sickness, but just as we take precautions to avoid other sickness—we need to take precautions against complaining.  So I thought I would share with you, just a few ideas for avoiding this contagion.  

       Avoid contact with the sick.  If you must deal with the sick as we all inevitably must, take precautions.  Cover your ears to shut out those ugly comments. Cover your mouth to keep from absorbing the disease and sharing it with others.  Cover your heart in God’s Word.

      Take in plenty of nutrients to ward off this sickness.  Spend quality time drinking heavily of God’s Word.  Inhale and exhale the praises and wonders of all God has done.  Get plenty of rest in the Lord.  Exercise the fruit of the Spirit.  

      Be aware of your spiritual condition.  If you feel yourself coming down with a complaint, seek immediate help from the Physician.  Confess your ailment and wash your spirit regularly.  Eliminate all pollutants that lend themselves to feeding the sickness.  Set yourself apart.

We have to live in this world where disease runs rampant and complaining isn't the only sickness we should take a stand against.  So the final word of encouragement is…educate yourself.  Educate yourself about the various diseases that can damage, even kill the spirit.  Know what negative influences are out there seeking to destroy you.  You can’t avoid what you don’t know exists.  But once you do understand the dangers then fight against them. 

Remember, your “spiritual” health is at risk, as well as those who are around you, and “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
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