Summer has snakes and bugs and heat. Autumn means back-to-school and shorter days. Winter has cold and ice and snow. Spring means pollen and rain and wind. If we look, we can find what we don’t like in any situation. I can find what I don’t like about my husband or my friends. I can choose to focus on what I dislike about my job. If I am so inclined, I can choose to point out what I didn’t appreciate about the sermon or the music or the programs or anything else about my church.
The key is that I can choose.
We can all choose what we think about, focus on, or dwell on. The funny thing is, what we think about most will affect how we feel. How we feel will eventually determine what we say. And what we say affects everyone around us. We can bring a somber, negative mood into our atmosphere just by having a complaining spirit. But we can choose.
In Philippians 4:8, Paul said, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (NIV).
If God through Paul can command us to “think about such things,” then we obviously have the ability to choose what we think about. In 2 Corinthians 10:5, Paul said, “…and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (NIV). So when thoughts come into our minds that are not true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or worthy of praise, we can take those thoughts captive. Think about what that concept means. If I take someone captive, they are no longer free to roam about, but are now under my control. So if we take our negative thoughts captive, we stop them from roaming around in our minds and make them under our control. Then we make our thoughts obedient to Christ. We let His Spirit determine what we think about any given situation.
I like to call this process the “mind-mouth-mood” attitude. If I can get my mind under the control of the Spirit of God, then my mouth will follow. As my mind begins to change negative thoughts into positive ones, I will begin to confess more positive words over my situation. As I speak life-giving words, I change my atmosphere into one of praise and thankfulness instead of groaning and complaining.
I heard someone say once, “You can complain and remain or praise and be raised!” I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a spirit of gratitude and praise even in a bad situation, because my praise might be the very thing God uses to raise me up out of that pit.
Honestly, I find myself complaining a whole lot more than praising. But I know I have the power to change that. Because you see, summer has sunshine and cookouts and swimming; autumn has cooler nights and hayrides and football; winter has snugly blankets and fireplaces and hot chocolate; and spring has longer days and warmer weather and daffodils. These realities are just as true!
My husband is a hard worker who loves Jesus and loves his family. My friends are there for me no matter what. My job allows me to do what I do best and impact a future generation. And my church is full of people who love God and love each other.
Yes, I can find plenty of things to complain about. But why bother? Negative words won’t change my situation. But positive words will change me.