Have you ever entered into pious whining? You know, telling your story of woes and then retelling your story of woes and then for emphasis telling your story of woes with a request for prayer. Maybe or maybe not, but I suspect you can identify it. This is what Scripture presents as a way of dealing with the normal human longing to whine.
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed. Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21-25 (NLT)
What does that look like lived out? The early followers of Christ did it. Paul gives a description of some “whine” worthy things he went through, but he did not whine.
Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm. Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am. God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, who is worthy of eternal praise, knows I am not lying. 2 Corinthians 11:23-31 (NLT)
Elements of Whining
You can identify whining and find a different approach if you choose. Here are some elements of whining to consider.
If all the bad stuff happens to you. You might be self-consumed.
If all the situations around you have to do with you. You might be self-consumed.
If all you can think about are the situations and bad stuff that happens to you. You might be self-consumed.
If all you can talk about are the situations and bad stuff that happens to you. You might be self-consumed.
If all your conversations, answers to questions, and prayer requests are about the situations and bad stuff that happens to you. You might be self-consumed.
If you have the super power of turning any conversation about the news, someone else’s life, or a Bible verse back to you and your current anxiety you might be a master of boomerang talk.
If you are good at keeping a story about you going even after it has run its course, the topic has been changed, and someone else wants to join in you might be a Ninja master of boomerang talk.
Heart worms are dangerous.
If you are consistently upset over people and situations not fitting into your idea of how things ought to go you might have heart worms.
If you are seeking compassion for yourself, but rarely for others you might have heartworms.
If you are more comfortable fretting, worrying and keeping a fire going under anxiety rather than listening to and turning to the living God you might have heartworms.
Using an expression, sigh, short answers in order to get people to ask with genuine concern, “So, what’s wrong?” You might be baiting support.
Using Facebook or social media as a tool to make a statement which causes people to jump in with alarm because of the seriousness of the tone with little real information. You might be baiting support.
Whining is an annoying high pitched sound or a person living below the character level God designed and letting everyone else know that it must be everyone else’s fault. God has better for His people. Lots better.
Winning over Whining
It begins with really trusting the Lord. Really. We as His people are to follow in His steps. Even in suffering we are to follow Him. How did Jesus do with having His back laid open with the whip? Humiliation in front of spectators and even His own mother as He hung naked on a cross and Jesus did…not…whine. He had concern for his mother. He gave grace to the thief on the cross next to Him. He asked God the Father to forgive them. That is quite an example. Jesus had perspective. Jesus was not self-consumed.
Paul trusted the Lord even with beatings and hunger and being an outcast and having been ship wrecked. No whining. His concern was to serve and honor God. He was interested in the wellbeing of others. The connection of others to the one true and living God energized him. He knew that was the hope for all people. Anything else will collapse and burn someday. Winning over whining means keeping the main thing the main thing.
The thinking that I deserve better opens the door to whining. Jesus and Paul deserved better. They did not deserve what they got. They didn’t whine. Getting to know God better. Soaking Him up helps break the cycle of self. Joshua had a big job ahead. He had to get the people of Israel into the land God was giving them. It required facing formidable armies, fortified cities, and fear. God knew what was coming and what would help. Here is the instruction to Joshua:
Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. Joshua 1:8 (NLT)
See the direction God went with this in order to help Joshua? In order to accomplish what God had for him in life Joshua had to focus on God’s things not himself. The whiner instead of studying God’s truth continually will continually study themselves and their circumstances and their heartache. The whiner instead of meditating on God’s wonderful word will keep going over day and night all that bothers them. The whiner will not do what God said to do, but instead will turn to stewing about the awful stuff in their life and find a way to whine about it to someone. The whiner will not prosper or succeed in doing what God has for them to do. God gave Joshua incredibly helpful directions. And He had more to say to Joshua.
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NLT)
Instead of leaving room for whining God says, “BE strong and courageous.” Fantastic. Joshua doesn’t have to be afraid or discouraged. Whiners live in fear and discouragement routinely. But God has better. The reason Joshua can move forward is that God was with Him. Joshua had to do what God said. When He did…wow. God was with Him to live fully, to accomplish totally what God had laid out for him.
Winning over whining as we follow Jesus means there is an attitude adjustment. Paul describes it well in Philippians 2.
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Philippians 2:3-5 (NLT)
How much whining would be left after a person gets rid of selfishness, self-aggrandizement and takes on an actual interest in the lives of others? Not much I reckon.
How does this work? A person following Christ gets a grasp of the deep things of Christ, an understanding of the God of heaven, a desire to love truly, and then gets going on it.
At church seeking to move others closer to Christ and to the Kingdom would replace announcing one’s own accomplishments and worldly pursuits. Conversations would have an atmosphere of heaven about them. Of course, the things of this life are matters to be discussed and to be brought before the Lord in prayer, but if they are central whining will soon break loose. If those things are submitted under the things of God there is hope of solving them with God’s wisdom or of enduring them with God’s strength, but if God is an add in tagged on to the end then you can pretty much guess the outcome.
Developing maturity in Christ we are people who are better able to see past our own feelings and opinions and enter into more spiritual reality with our feelings and opinions. Jesus has feelings and opinions but they were not and are not based on the flesh or the world’s ways. Spiritually healthy emotions can help us get beyond ourselves and into the “interests of others.” By the way the “interests of others” does not mean if someone is really into college football that you should really be into their team or whatever. No. It is what is for their best interest. It was best for people that Jesus come and live humbly among people of earth. It was in their best interest He suffer and die on the cross. Get the idea. The best interest of someone at church is encouraging, building up, developing in another what they need to love God with all they’ve got and to live with love in their hearts for others. This is far from being self-consumed, using boomerang talk, struggling with heartworms or baiting support.
It is time to win over whining. Now.