“Moooooooom, my cookie broke!”
In a crying wail of complaint, these were the words of my distraught three-year-old. I sighed and bent down to speak to her about the current situation. I try to remain calm during these dramatic episodes of whining my toddler displays, but sometimes my patience runs thin. Her perpetual crying over the smallest of things can get her in trouble, along with grating on my nerves. I find myself wondering how to best teach her whining is not a godly attribute. She certainly doesn’t see this trait modeled from her mother. Or does she?
Not long after the cookie breaking fiasco, I hit my knee on a bench in our home. My immediate response was to sit down and cry out in pain, “Ouch! That really hurt!” My daughter just happen to be walking by and asked, “Mommy? Are you whining?”
I was called out by a three-year-old.
Are you whining?
If I am honest with myself, I do whine. My complaints might sound something like:
I am so sick of doing this laundry.
I wish my husband would be as romantic as her husband.
I cannot believe she said such a rude and hurtful thing.
Though most of these comments are internal, and I do not say them aloud, God certainly still hears them. If my daughter’s whining aggravates me, I wonder how my own complaints make God feel?
Complainers in the Bible
When the Israelites grumbled, it angered God. Their consequence was to not see the promised land (Deuteronomy 1 :27-35). They missed out on the blessing because of their grumbling.
The indiginiant pharisees complained because Jesus healed a woman on the Sabbath. Jesus humiliated them with His reply (Luke 13:14-17).
Martha whines to Jesus, asking Him to tell Mary to help her. Jesus reminds her Mary understands what is important and not trivial (Luke 10:38-41). Martha was missing out on the teachings of Jesus, but Mary was not.
There are plenty more scenarios in the Bible of those who complain, but I think we get the picture. God is displeased with complainers. So what are we to do? How are we to stop whining?
First: Understand the Consequences
When my daughter continues to whine, she is instructed to go to timeout or loses a privilege. I do this to show her complaining will not be tolerated. She discovers the consequences are far less fun than if she would have made the choice to not whine. God reprimands us. Perhaps He reprimanded me through my daughter, drawing my attention to the whining I myself was doing in my life. Once we face our sin and acknowledge it, we see the consequences more clearly.
The consequences of me whining about housework, is a negative effect on my body physically and mentally. My joy and thankfulness to have a family to clean up after is lost in my crushed spirit (Proverbs 17:22), a poor spirit created by my complaining. A poor spirit that leaves me feeling tired and in a bad mood.
As I whine about how I wish my husband would do this or that better, the consequence for me is a weakened marriage. Complaining about a husband is detrimental to any marriage, and is not respectful (Ephesians 5:33). When whining is practiced by either spouse, it opens the door for Satan to come in and wreak havoc on the couple.
Hearing or reading the words of another and grumbling about how rude, horrible, and mean I think she is brings consequences. In fact, my judgment of her is not needed. Judging is God’s job. I would not want Him to judge me as I have done others. I have been harsh, unloving, and unforgiving. Thank goodness God is merciful, but when I don’t show mercy to others, I am asking Him to do the same of me (James 5:9).
When we begin to see and understand what results our complaining yields, complaining looks less appealing doesn’t it? I do not enjoy reprimanding my daughter, but I do it because I love her, just as God loves us. I want her to see how unenjoyable the consequences of whining are, to keep her from doing it again. God does the same!
Second: Practice Will Not Make Perfect
As I am discovering with my toddler, teaching her to not whine is taking time and practice. She didn’t change her ways over night. In fact, we are still working on this habitual sin she is demonstrating. My own whining is taking practice to break. I want to say I will never whine again…
Join me next week to discuss point two. Practice means time and repetition, but not perfection!