The beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, termed the Beatitudes, is located in Matthew 5:1-10.
These wise sayings of Jesus are pithy, and at times we struggle to get the real meaning of the statements. For instance, in Matthew 5:5, it says: "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." Jesus tells us that meekness is a quality of Christ. They provide many insights in how to live our life.
I think, perhaps, there is a companion to some of the Beatitudes that didn’t quite make it into the canon of scripture. For example: "Blessed are the complainers, because they will continually grumble."
Yes, you read it correctly: "Blessed are the complainers, because they will continually grumble." It seems that we are living in times that grumbling and complaining are not only accepted, but expected. We journey to a store and when the checkout line is too long and too slow, we complain. I caught myself waiting last week at a store to check out. It took too long. I am on a schedule. I fidgeted. I grew impatient. The clerk apologized. I said, "That’s OK." Then I realized, in my self-absorbed way, that I had missed an opportunity to display the compassion and kindness of Christ. I failed in my mission as a Christian. Complaining doesn’t seem to fit in with the character of Christ. In fact, the character of Christ directs us to have the opposite attitude of complaining. We must develop an "attitude of gratitude."
Developing an attitude of gratitude begins as I focus on the goodness of God. It is difficult to whine and complain when I focus on God. Psalm 27:13-14 speaks to that truth: "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." As does Psalm 107:1: "Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! For his mercy endures forever."
The psalmist indicates that God’s love is enduring across all times. We can live life confidently because of our relationship with God. Complaining separates us from God by bringing out our selfish human nature. Paul writes in Philippians 2 that our attitude should be like that of Christ, who left heaven and came to earth just for the benefit of all humanity – so we might have a personal relationship with God through Christ. Selfishness destroys the character of Christ within us. Complaining is selfishness taking control of us.
Developing a cheerful heart is another way scripture teaches us to combat complaining. Proverbs 15:13 and 15:15 tell us this: "A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit." And "All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast."
The heart is thought to be the center of our emotion. When we begin to feel oppressed, anxious, worried or beaten down by life, we look at life through our eyes instead of God’s eyes. In the biblical sense, happiness and contentment are similar. To attain contentment or happiness in our life, we must keep our heart focused on God. God changes our perspective in life. The cheerful heart will feast continuously; yet, if we let heartache rule, it will crush our spirit.
Complaining is a symptom of a crushed spirit, being oppressed and defeated. The secret to getting rid of the oppression of our heart is found in I Peter 5:6-7 says this: "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time, casting all your cares upon him, for he cares for you."
We first must cast our cares upon God. Most of the time, when we cast our cares on God, we drag them back to us. It's like fishing with grandchildren: they cast and reel back in, cast and reel back in. When one child gets a bite, they each become more intense on casting. Yet, with each cast, they reel back in. That is what most of us do with our cares, worries and anxieties. We try to give them to God, yet insist on dragging them back to us. We are challenged to humble ourselves before God and admit that we can’t handle our problems. Humility is another character quality of Christ that we are commanded to imitate.
Ephesians 5:5 says: "Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children."
Imitating Christ is the only cure for the constant complaining of our society – and for us, as individuals. I have read the Gospels many times. I really haven’t sensed any time that Christ complained. He had his focus on his father, his heart was content, and he cast his cares on his heavenly father because he cared for his son. Imitation is usually not the best method; yet, in this case, imitating God is the only way to find contentment in our hearts.
The challenge to all readers is simple: Use the time that God has given you wisely. We must decide if we're going to let ourselves complain and grumble
I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet. Developing an attitude of gratitude can change the way you view your world. Just remember: When life hands you a stinker, change your thinker.