Did you know that this is a commandment?
(Well, not really, but don't you think it should at least be #10a???)
For indeed, are we not all prone to this?
(Tell me I'm not alone on this one, friends…)
I think it's part of human nature somehow. After all, I see its beginnings as early as the Garden of Eden.
Observe the scene when God confronts Adam and Eve about that whole *apple* debacle – (my paraphrasing):
(GOD) "What have you done?"
(ADAM) "It's not my fault. It was her fault! (As he points a finger at Eve and takes a step away). She gave it to me. And you know, she's the woman YOU gave me, so it's kinda Your fault."
(God shakes His head, and slowly turns to Eve).
(GOD) "What have you done?"
(EVE) "It's not my fault. It was the serpent's fault. He deceived me, and I couldn't help myself. Not to mention that Adam should have stood up for me and helped me. And for the record, YOU created both of them, so it's kinda Your fault."
Now, clearly The Blame Game started in Eden, and so did the human propensity to make excuses instead of taking ownership and responsibility for our own actions.
But, I also think this is the beginning of The Whine.
Can't you hear their voices?
Mewling, sniveling, belly-aching.
"It's not my fault, waa, waa, waa…"
If any of you have ever raised children, and spent any length of time with a toddler, you will understand that we just might have a genetic predisposition to whining. Sometimes nothing is right, and nothing will satisfy, and sometimes our only response is a good ol' temper tantrum.
But think about it – aren't the roots of whining found in blaming?
I think of those pesky Israelites. I used to be so critical of their grumbling and mumbling. I used to feel like shouting at my Bible...
"What is wrong with you people? God brought you miraculously out of Egypt! Don't you get it? He's not going to stop taking care of you now. Quit your griping, stand up tall, and get on with it!"
I used to think that.
Until I took a good, long look in the mirror.
Mrs. Whine looked back at me.
Yeah, I'm no different.
All too often, I find myself whining about life, or troubles, or inconveniences, or setbacks, or obstacles – or my weight or wrinkles or body aches or personality flaws – or bills or bad weather or broken cars – about almost anything that comes along that interferes with my comfort or control, or that doesn't fit in with MY view of *how things should be.*
I admit it – I can be a world-class complainer.
But I have discovered some really dangerous pitfalls about whining, and I'd like to share them with you:
1) It can become a habit
Yes, negativity can become an entrenched pattern. Like an old, familiar overcoat that we wear – but shouldn't – it can envelop us in some really harmful habits. I suppose it's one reason that we are cautioned to guard our hearts, and to capture our thoughts, and to mind our tongues. For what lies deep inside us, the *wellspring* of our attitudes, can become contaminated.
And if we constantly gripe and grouse, we can find ourselves caught in a poisonous mire of infected thinking.
2) It can become contagious
Like the crummy common cold, whining can spread to others. I think it's rather obvious that this happened to the Israelites. Can't you just hear one person muttering, "You know, I miss Egypt…" And then another person saying, "Yeah, you're right. I liked eating meat."
I have noticed this in my own life. As a mother and as a wife, sometimes my foul mood infects those around me. And before I know it – ACHOO! – everyone's in a bad mood.
Yes, like a raging wildfire, the spirit of dissension can run rampant through the ranks.
3) It can lead to bitterness
Oh yes, and what a slippery slope this can be. Whining and complaining can become a habit of thinking, and that pattern can lead to bitterness. And, trust me, bitterness is a spiritual cancer, insidiously leading to sarcasm and cynicism, gossip and backbiting. Bitterness can pervade every part of us. It can create an embittered outlook on life and a caustic view of our fellow man.
It's not a giant leap from bitterness to anger to hatred.
And therein lies a mighty foothold for the devil.
4) It can cause wandering
No doubt about this!
Again, we have the example of the Israelites. Their attitude led to God pronouncing judgment – and they were consigned to wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Their example should serve as a mighty admonition. For when we allow negative patterns to take root, we can be distracted, dismayed, and detoured.
A wrong attitude can steer us off the path of following the Narrow Way – it can tempt us to wander away from the Lord.
5) It can erode gratitude and joy
At its heart, whining does not express either thankfulness or joy. Unhappy people complain. Ungrateful people grumble. And when we become caught up in bemoaning everything that's wrong, there's no room for the Lord to capture our hearts with greater Truth – that He is more than our circumstances. That He is our joy, not the good things in life.
That He is worthy of our eternal gratitude for all He's done for us.
6) It can lead to stagnation
Pessimism is weirdly captivating, for it allows us to moan and groan about life, instead of doing something about it. Rather than doing the difficult work of searching for joy, it can be a lot easier to give in to whining. Complaining somehow removes the onus of responsibility from our own shoulders. It implies that *something or someone else* is at fault for the misery we're feeling.
Whining looks outward – like all that *finger-pointing* in the Garden of Eden.
Whining does not energize, it paralyzes. Moaning leads to immobility.
And as long as we stay stuck in negativity, the less energy we'll spend on doing the real work of transforming our thoughts and renewing our minds.
7) It can tempt us to blame God
Oh, is there any more dangerous thing?!
Adam and Eve implied (to His very face!) that somehow God was at fault. The Israelites did the very same thing. Yes, they grumbled against Moses – but in their hearts, I believe they blamed God. Their complaint summed up – "Did you bring us all this way just to have us die?" – was truly directed at the Lord.
Do we not do the same thing?
When we know God can do something, and He doesn't, there is great temptation to blame Him for everything that's wrong. We can begin to feel cheated, affronted, resentful, suspicious.
And that opens the door to a dangerous precedent.
8) It can quench the Holy Spirit
Yup, even though the presence of the Holy Spirit dwells within each person that has accepted the Lord Jesus as their Savior, we can still thwart His work in our lives.
We can quench Him, grieve Him, stymie Him, impede Him, hamper Him, inhibit Him.
His work can only be accomplished in a heart that is yielded and surrendered. And trust me, we are NOT handing over our lives when we are caught up in a web of whining.
Negative thinking, out-loud complaining, and general grumbling about life are signs that our focus is woefully out-of-focus – a sure sign that we're looking *around us* instead of looking up!
So, that's my summary on The Whine.
What prompted this post today?
It might have had something to do with the headache I woke up with, the dress that was too tight, the spots and wrinkles I had to hide with makeup, the hot weather…and a host of other *whiney* challenges that ensnared me…
Until I remembered Commandment #10a:
"Thou shalt not whine."
For indeed, we shalt not be tempted to a critical attitude and endlessly reciting a litany of complaints.
We shalt trust the Lord our God, and rely on His wisdom, guidance, and leadership.
We shalt relinquish control of our lives and surrender our circumstances to Him.
We shalt believe in His goodness and grace.
We shalt rejoice in His providence, rest in His love, and remember His mighty deeds.
We shalt return to a spirit of joy and gratitude.
And we shalt walk on…
Woe is me.
Alas and alack.
Oh, stop it!!
"Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest...And the LORD said to Moses, 'How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them?'"
(Numbers 14:1, 11, NLT)
"Who may worship in your sanctuary, LORD? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends." (Psalm 15:1-3, NLT)
"Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. Hold firmly to the word of life..." (Philippians 2:14-16, NLT)
"'For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'"
(Isaiah 55:9, NLT)
"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT)
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,a whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4, NIV)
"I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth." (Psalm 34:1, ESV)
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4, NIV)
"This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it."
(Psalm 118:24, NLT)
Are you caught up in a web of whining?
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