Words are Powerful
Mary had grown up knowing that she was different from the other kids, and she hated it. She was born with a cleft palate and had to bear the jokes and stares of cruel children who teased her non-stop about her misshaped lip, crooked nose, and garbled speech. With all the teasing, Mary grew up hating the fact that she was “different.” She was convinced that no one, outside her family, could ever love her… until she entered Mrs. Leonard’s class.
Mrs. Leonard had a warm smile, a round face, and shiny brown hair. While everyone in her class liked her, Mary came to love Mrs. Leonard. In the 1950’s, it was common for teachers to give their children an annual hearing test. However, in Mary’s case, she was barely able to hear out of one ear. Determined not to let the other children have another “difference” to point out, she would cheat on the test each year.
The “whisper test” was given by having a child walk to the classroom door, turn sideways, close one ear with a finger, and then repeat something which the teacher whispered. Mary turned her bad ear towards her teacher and pretended to cover her good ear. She knew that teachers would often say things like, “The sky is blue,” or “What color are your shoes?” But not on that day. Surely, God put seven words in Mrs. Leonard’s mouth that changed Mary’s life forever. When the “whisper test” came, Mary heard the words, “I wish you were my little girl!”
The Power of Life or Death
Proverbs 18:21 says, Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose. Proverbs 12:18 tells us, “the words of the wise bring healing.” What comes out of our mouths is also very telling. That is why you can learn a lot about a person by the words they use. Luke 6:45 tells us, “What you say flows from what is in your heart.” One translation says, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. The words a person uses will tell us a lot about what is inside of that person.
What’s Going On Inside
New research indicates there’s a biological reason why women talk so much more than men. According to one study, 20,000 words a day spoken by the average woman versus about 7,000 words a day for the average man. Women’s brains have higher levels of a “language protein” called FOXP2, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. This means that we are given somewhere between 7,000 to 20,000 opportunities to know what is going on inside of a person.
Proverbs 8:13 tells us, “The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” Our speech will show how much we fear the Lord. Consider the life of Joseph, who had been given dreams from the Lord. His brothers became jealous, which showed their lack of the fear of the Lord. Joseph is eventually sold into Potiphar’s house where he served for ten years. Imagine how each day his dream from God must have appeared further and further away. Joseph was isolated and alone in a pagan land far from all he had known and loved. He had no fellowship with believers and no brother to confide in. He was lonely, but did not yield to Potiphar’s wife. If he had lost his godly fear and become offended at God, he would have lacked the strength to withstand temptation.
Listen to what the Joseph says, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). Joseph had such a fear of God that showed up in a very tempting moment. Instead of being rewarded, Joseph’s obedience landed him in Pharaoh’s dungeon. Many would fall prey to the death grip of bitterness in his position. Joseph remained in prison two years and yet, we still have no evidence of his complaining or becoming embittered with the Lord. Even in the darkness of the prison, he continues to fear God.
Drifting Into Disobedience
Josephs descendants were very different. They obeyed when their desires were met and when God manifested His mighty power on their behalf. Whenever they were discouraged or felt abandoned, they quickly drifted into disobedience. One of the first symptoms of drifting from the fear of the Lord is grumbling and complaining. The Greek word translated “complainer” means literally “one who is discontented with his lot in life.” Did you hear that? We start complaining when we are discontent with our lives, what we have been given, and what we think we are entitled too.
Complaining is a Killer
Complaining will short-circuit the life of God in you. It indirectly communicates to the Lord, “I don’t like what You are doing in my life…and if I were you, I would do it differently.” Complaining is nothing more than a manifestation of insubordination against the Lord’s authority. Complaining is irreverent and shows we are not living in the fear of the Lord. Consider what Philippians 2:12–14 says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing.” This word grumbling means, “An undertone of murmuring dissatisfaction or discontentedly complaining secretly.”
While the Lord is the only one that can handle our complaining, nowhere does he tell us to adopt a lifestyle of complaining. In fact, 1 Corinthians 10:10 tells us, “nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.” God hates complaining. He doesn’t hate complainers, but He does hate it when we complain. One of Israel’s greatest, most consistent sins while in the wilderness was that of complaining and murmuring. In fact, it was their complaining that made an 11-day trip last 40 years. God hates complaining so much He allowed His own children to suffer death to serve as an example of the level of judgment that complaining deserves.
3 Reasons Why God Hates Complaining
- Complaining Poisons our Attitude
Whatever our negative attitude, complaining just makes it more negative. Most of the time we even wear it on our expressions by looking angry and unsatisfied. Complaining is so poisonous that scientists say that it negatively affects our neural networks. The more we complain, the darker we see the world because we are just enhancing these neural pathways at the expense of others.
- Complaining Infects the Attitude of Others
Complaining is contagious. When we share our negative discontent, it can have the same negative effect on someone else’s attitude, especially if they are spiritually or emotionally weak. Upon returning from spying out the promised land, Joshua and Caleb were full of faith. They said, “We should, by all means, go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). But the other men who went with Joshua and Caleb, “gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report saying, ‘The land…devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.’” As this small group continued to complain and grumble, the infection grew to the point where the people went to kill Moses and Aaron and just before the stones began to fly “the glory of the Lord appeared... to all the Israelites”(Num. 14:10). The infection of complaining is dangerous and will destroy people.
- Complaining Implies We Don’t Trust God
Complaining is the exact opposite of trusting God and being thankful. God had led Israel and promised them ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’ However, when things got tough, they continually complained and lamented that they wished they had never left Egypt. Exodus 14:12 says, “Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians?’ For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”
Complaining in difficult circumstances says to God that we don’t trust Him. Remember that through everything that Job went through, he never blamed God (Job 1:22). The fear of the Lord is a force within us that will keep that killer of complaining out. “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death” (Proverbs 14:27).
Let’s take a “relationship inventory.” Are you holding onto hurts? Bitterness? Are you in competition or in a battle with someone? Are you walking in unbelief? Maybe your flesh has opened the door to an ungrateful spirit. Ask God’s forgiveness for your grumbling and complaining right now. He can soften your heart and give you a spirit like His, willing to do battle in prayer – even for your enemies.
Psalm 141:1–3 (ESV) “O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”