Have you noticed an uptick in dissatisfied people? If it’s not related to Covid or the election, it’s their health, spouse, kids, job…you name it! They may say it’s nothing…maybe a hole in their sock that’s making them cranky, but they sure are making their dissatisfaction known to other people…and you know there is more that’s stuck than just their big toe! Now, I’m not talking about people who are just giving you a “state of the union” when you ask them how they are; I consider that filling you in on what’s going on, because you asked. I’m talking about those you may or may not address, yet they come into a building or a room, laying woe after woe on the table. It doesn’t take long before it feels like the flame of a candle just got snuffed out, doesn’t it? Your insides begin to feel tight and, possibly, your attitude turns to being disgruntled right along with them.
I was listening to someone doing this the other day, and my spirit knew it was in a fight. I kept wanting to bring light and joy to the conversation, but my insides seemed to have a big ‘ole frown face covering them after hearing complaint after complaint. Shortly after, when I was alone, I prayed for this individual and was asking God how I could make a positive difference in this person’s life. I thought through the armor of God and considered how something to cover our mouths might be beneficial. That’s when it “hit” me; the LORD brought to mind 2 Peter 1:3.
“…seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”2 Peter 1:3 NASB
The armor God has given us in Jesus Christ is everything we need to fight the temptation to complain…And it IS a temptation! Over and over again in Scripture, we are commanded NOT to be disgruntled or question. This doesn’t mean we can’t ask God questions. The sin trigger comes when our questions are self-promoting, because WE want to be in control, rather than giving glory (or a favorable opinion) to GOD. When we are disgruntled, we are complaining about things not going the way WE would like. We lose site of the sovereignty (ultimate power and authority) of God and focus on ourselves. We make that choice. It doesn’t just happen. We consciously make the choice to entertain our own desires or plan, and before long, when we make those same choices over and over, it becomes more of a habit; we tend to think less about each choice.
Before we get to that point (and even if we have already found ourselves there), let’s take a step back, in the quiet, and spend some time in thought and prayer.
Maybe you get annoyed at your teen, consistently leaving a plate or used napkin in the living room after a snack. Is it REALLY the paper plate or napkin that’s annoying you, or is it the lack of respect and responsibility? It’s necessary to address THAT…the REAL issue, after FIRST addressing it in your own heart. If it is the lack of respect and responsibility in your child, are you enabling that behavior or consistently addressing it? I assure you! If you are addressing it, you are not alone, if you feel like you are consistently meeting challenges head on, but not always seeing movement. Sometimes, it feels like a battle that can be won, and sometimes it just feels like you are wounded and taking another punch. However, this is where we need to ask the question…Are we addressing the behavior itself, consistently, or the root? I believe more movement will be seen when we address the roots of our responses as well as those of others’.
Maybe you’re upset with your or your spouse’s employer, because you or your spouse have been laid off or are not getting as many hours recently. Examine the root! Is it really the employer you’re upset with, or is it fear that you won’t be able to pay the bills that you still continue to receive? After prayer and reflection, if you find that your root is fear, you can more accurately bring your cares and needs before the LORD; it will also allow you to more wisely assess the root of the employer’s actions. Maybe Covid has been really hard on business, and changes HAD to be made, whether they wanted to or not. Do you see how our misplaced emotions can add to the tension, instead of aiding in healing?
The LORD laid another couple verses on my heart, as I pondered this.
Now we encourage you, brethren, warn those who are insubordinate or idle, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves AND for all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing; in everything, give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.1 Thessalonians 5:14-18 NKJV
I love how Paul gives us a reality check in his first letter to the Thessalonians. They, obviously, had to deal with some of this stuff, too.
If we focus on THESE things, I believe our perspective will be much more positive and much less negative! Our thoughts, covered by the helmet of salvation through Christ, will affect our heart, covered by the breastplate of righteousness (of Christ); and your heart will affect what comes out of your mouth. How we handle a situation can positively affect another, especially if we are considering how our response can be good for the other person, as well.
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”Luke 6:45 NIV
Let’s go back to the person who just offers complaints readily. This would be a perfect time to interact with God, asking Him to help you discern the root of their dissatisfaction and help bring words of healing (which may come in the way of a question you pose, a challenge, a different perspective, etc.). I think we would all be wise to remember, though, that we are not responsible for the way they respond to how the Spirit is teaching you to speak. That’s between them and God. We just need to listen for His counsel and obey.
The LORD is speaking to me loudly on this. How about you? If He is, and you begin looking for the root of the matter, thinking about others and their good, and the Spirit teaches you how to speak differently from a heart centered on the truths of Scripture, I would love to hear how you are seeing Him move in you and in those around you!