After nearly four decades of pastoral ministry I can confidently assert that this is one of the most violated commands in the entire Bible. Sometimes it seems like people have misread that verse to say “do everything with grumbling.” At times I’ve wondered if some people were under the misconception that they have been commanded by God to complain, because they do it religiously. In the past I have gone through periods where I’ve been astounded at the flood of complaint that I had to deal with. Complaining is virulently contagious. Once it gets going it is like the proverbial snowball rolling down the hill and it seems impossible to stop. It is also extremely corrosive in a ministry. We should note that in Philippians 2:15 Paul went on to write, “so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” The key to being blameless and pure, to being different from the world, is not complaining!
God hates complaining because in the final analysis our complaint is at some level an accusation against him. It is a denial of faith in his goodness and his sovereign will for our lives. That alone should cause us to run from complaint with all possible dispatch, but on top of that we learn that, as usual, disobedience to God’s will is bad for us. It turns out that complaining causes our body to release more of the hormone cortisol. This is not wonderful stuff. Too much of it interferes with learning and memory, lowers our immune function, increases blood pressure and can even produce weight gain.
Most of us excuse our complaining by calling it venting. Venting is a good thing, right? It’s allowing pressure to escape, which is important because if the pressure builds up too much it will do damage. It turns out that we are exactly wrong. Our “venting” does not relieve pressure, it actually worsens it and leads to more negativity. It also has a negative effect on others. Psychologist Jeffrey Lohr who has studied complaining specifically, says our venting is like breaking wind in a crowded elevator. Personally that’s something I would seriously try to avoid.
Do everything without complaining. What a good idea. But it’s more than that. It’s a command from God. It is key to being “without fault” in this dark world and it turns out it is also important for your health mentally and physically.