|This summer, a man in Connecticut had to call 911 for a personal emergency. Now, he wasn’t having a heart attack. There was no car accident. No building was on fire. No, he called because the folks at his favorite deli did not make his sandwich to his liking. Apparently he likes a little turkey and ham but a lot of cheese and mayo and the worker blew it.
The exchange with the 911 dispatcher went something like this: “You are unhappy about how they are making your sandwich?” “Yes.” “Then don’t buy it.” “But I am a regular at this deli and I am afraid they won’t get it right next time either. I just want it solved in the right way. Please come down here and resolve it.”
Now that is a complaining spirit!
And while I would like the full attention of this dumb encounter to rest at the feet of this whining gentleman, I must admit that I too have this “disease.” Like the children of Israel who were released from the tyranny of Egypt and yet complained “the next day,” I whine and complain regularly as well.
This muttering is such a problem that it is addressed in many places in our Bible. Jesus instructed the Jews (and us by extension) to stop grumbling among ourselves (John 6:43) And Paul elaborates that thought a bit in Philippians chapter two, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing”. And in chapter 4, he enjoins us to learn to be content.
That word “grumbling” (muttering) is an interesting Greek word. It is the onomatopoetic word, “gogguzo.” It gets its meaning from the sound that is literally made when we indeed mutter. When we pronounce this word with a low tone and a deep voice it sounds distinctly like a grumble or complaint.
Now I doubt that any of us will be calling 911 for a poorly made sandwich this week, but we do need to watch how we mutter our way around town. Where and when are we susceptible to a complaining spirit? What triggers our lack of contentment? Why do we not have a thankful heart?
After we make a note of our tendencies to whine and complain, the next step is to exercise some self control and stop the muttering. Pretty soon, we may be able to echo Paul and state with some real confidence, “… I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”