Posted by: trbccoffeebreak | March 14, 2023

No Complaints

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing, so that you will be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:14-15

We are in the midst of Lent—40 days of preparation for the Easter celebration. Growing up Catholic, we were always told to give up something we like during that time. And I did—but for me, it was just a box to check off, and I didn’t really use it to deepen my relationship with God. (Plus, I would do very flesh-fulfilling “sacrifices”—like giving up beer but then carrying around a bottle of vodka to parties…and proclaiming proudly, “Yeah, I can’t drink beer because I gave it up for Lent.” Cue the self-righteous swag.)

Anyway, once I truly surrendered my life to the Lord, the meaning of Lent definitely shifted for me. I’ve become much more intentional over the years about focused prayer, preparation, and praise about the Resurrection of Jesus and the impact of that historical eternity-changing event. Especially its eternity-changing impact on me.

This year—which is also my “year of Joy”—I decided to fast an intangible thing: complaining and grumbling. In Philippians (one of my favorite epistles…well, they all become my favorite as I’m reading them), Paul commands believers to “do everything without complaining or arguing” (Philippians 2:14). The Greek word he first uses (translated “complaining” or “grumbling”) means murmuring discontent, which could be the complaining we do in our own minds regarding a situation or that quiet (or not so quiet) group-gripe among friends or co-workers—generally about another person. The word for “arguing” here means to hesitate, doubt, or outright rebel against what is true or what ought to be done. Each is a slightly different take on our general word “complain.”

Now, I’m not a big complainer, but I can get frustrated by other people—especially when they don’t do what I think they should…you know, the right thing. (I won’t expand on my “moral perfectionist” tendencies right now, but you probably get it. And I know I can be equally frustrating to others in this regard. But I digress.) Anyway, I don’t say anything to them, but when the interaction is done, I might have a few things to say in my own head…or I run to my husband with those grumbling thoughts. Or, when a coworker or friend has a complaint against a person we both interact with, I would tend to join them—to “empathize”, which ended up sounding a bit group-gripey.

So, what does my “fast from complaining” look like? First, I try to stay away from all news, which has the power to set me off on all kinds of not-so-quiet tirades. But the more potent application for me is to weave Paul’s command into my everyday moments. When a situation arises that could cause internal grumbling, I look for—and profess—the positive and the blessing in it. Or, if I’m talking with someone who is going off on another person’s words or actions, I do not join in, but try to redirect the “griper” to something affirmative about that person or the scenario about which they’re griping. I try to turn discouragement into encouragement.

This has been pretty amazing. As I mentioned, I didn’t think I was much of a complainer, but being intentional about not even grumbling to myself has made a bigger difference than I anticipated. The result? A new level of joy throughout the day! (There are so many levels of truth in this, how what we think impacts our feelings and actions—but that’s another blog.) And I hope that by not engaging in group gripe that I’m bringing a little joy into other people’s day as well—shining light into the darkness. The coolest thing is that my husband (a self-admitted complainer) is also doing the Philippians 2:14-15 fast. As you can imagine, our home atmosphere has shifted. Again, we didn’t complain or argue with each other (at least, not very often), it was more a conspiratorial co-grumbling about other people and situations. Being free of this, we are deeply embracing another part of Paul’s letter to the Philippians—chapter 4, verses 4-9. Check it out, as these verses make another great prep-for-Easter approach!

What about you? Why not halt the grumbling and arguing—and choose joy? It was for the joy set before Jesus that He endured the cross for us (Hebrews 12:2)…so, let’s fix our eyes on Him with joy for what He accomplished on our behalf that Easter morning.

“Lord, Your death and resurrection made a way for us to be reconciled to God—to go from darkness to light, blindness to sight, death to life. May that Truth permeate our days, overtaking any complaints with the joy of our salvation.”


For His Glory


Julianne Winkler Smith
TRBC Women’s Life







  1. Perfect timing… I decided to not talk too much (i.e. complain) about the time change we’re going through and how it messes up everyone’s internal clock. Not that easy when there are tired crabby people around, but my son pointed it out to me to “stop it already”. And he’s right. 😊

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