Quit Your Bellyaching

Read: Philippians 2:12-16

Do all things without grumbling or questioning. (v. 14 RSV)

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, a natural response to disappointment or frustration. But complaining is a cancer on your 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 your life.

Paul follows the Christ-hymn with the exhortation to “do everything without grumbling.” The connection is clear: if you truly understand what Jesus did to reconcile you to God, you will be filled with such gratitude and joy that you can endure difficult circumstances without complaining. More than that, you will serve others, even if they don’t appreciate it, because you want to show the world the same love that Christ showed to you.

In contrast, when you grumble, you reveal the real motivations for your service: self-glorification and self-satisfaction. Complaining flows from a feeling of entitlement—from the belief that you are getting less than you deserve. But a Christian remembers that were it not for Christ’s loving sacrifice all any of us would deserve is hell. This humility can allow you to swallow your pride and be thankful.

When you are tempted to complain, compare your discomfort to what Christ endured for you.

As you pray, ask the Lord to give you a heart of gratitude.

About the Author

Jane Olson is a college counselor and high school teacher. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and children.

This entry is part 6 of 15 in the series Habits of a Thankful Heart