Keep on Swimming. . .

everyday life inside the fishbowl

Thursday Thoughts: “Of Whiners and Worshipers”

on June 26, 2014

ImageOur Ladies Bible Fellowship at church has started studying Scripture that has to do with gratitude, along with Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ excellent book, Choosing Gratitude. For the next several Thursdays, I will share what we are learning. It’s been a great study so far. I encourage you to read the book! Today’s focus is chapter 5. (You can read about chapter 4 here.)

Nancy begins this chapter by reminding us that we are either grateful people or ungrateful, whiners or worshipers. She gave the moving example of the famous blind hymn-writer, Fanny Crosby. Blindness itself would cause many to complain, but can you imagine knowing that your blindness was caused by the mistake of a doctor? This doctor ordered hot compresses on her 6-week old eyes in order to cure an eye infection. Rather than curing anything, the compresses rather led to permanent blindness!

Rather than complaining, however, Nancy notes Fanny’s response:

I could not have written thousands of hymns if I had been hindered by the distractions of seeing all the interesting and beautiful objects that would have been presented to my notice. . . . It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank Him for the dispensation (italics added, p 79).

This godly woman chose to worship God rather than to whine about her (tragic!) circumstances. We need to be diligent to recognize our complaining–even in the midst of great trials–as an act of “un-worship.” Instead, we must worship! Nancy encouraged us to listen to ourselves relating the everyday events of our lives, because “gratitude is a revealer of the heart, not just a reporter of details” (p. 80).

This chapter gave 6 differences between someone who is a whiner/ungrateful person and someone who is a worshiper/grateful person. Which characteristics most closely mark your life?

  1. A grateful person is a humble person, while ingratitude reveals a proud heart (80-82).

When I look at my own life and conversations, I realized that I will often complain about things in order to get sympathy. Why is that? It is because, in my pride, I feel like I deserve better. The sympathy I get soothes my proud heart.

  1. A grateful heart is God-centered and others-conscious, while an ungrateful person is self-centered and self-conscious (82-85).

“Ungrateful people are bent on gratifying themselves. They tend to focus on ‘my needs,’ ‘my hurts,’ ‘my feelings,’ ‘my desires,’ ‘how I have been treated, neglected, failed, or wounded” (p. 84). Not so Christ, the epitome of selflessness and humility (cf. Philippians 2)!

Nancy also noted something very interesting: “A common end result of ingratitude is the sin of moral impurity. A person who is wrapped up in herself. . . is prime bit for a tempter who thrives on accusing God of being unfair and ungenerous. An ungrateful heart is quick to notice when self is feeling unsatisfied, and is vulnerable to resorting to sinful acts and behaviors in an attempt to eliminate pain and experience personal pleasure” (p. 84).

Initially, I thought the connection between ingratitude and immorality was just interesting, but then I found a passage in Scripture that taught the connection!

Ephesians 5:3-4 “But SEXUAL IMMORALITY and all IMPURITY or COVETOUSNESS must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no FILTHINESS nor FOOLISH TALK nor CRUDE JOKING, which are out of place, but INSTEAD LET THERE BE THANKSGIVING.

Paul is not just contrasting the verbal sins of foolish talk and crude joking with thanksgiving. He is also contrasting sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness, and filthiness with thanksgiving. One commentator states: “Instead of the self-centeredness which characterizes sexual impurity, thanksgiving embodies a recognition of the Creator and his goodness” (Lincoln, WBC).

  1. A grateful heart is a full heart, while an unthankful heart is an empty one (85-87).

Paul, from a Roman dungeon and having only the basic necessities to live, said that he had “received full payment, and more. I am well supplied” (Phil 4:18).  Nancy asks the penetrating question, What would your note from prison have sounded like?” (p. 86)

  1. People with grateful hearts are easily contented, while ungrateful people are subject to bitterness and discontent (87-89).

Though “details and reasons vary,” Nancy has noted that “one of the chief reasons behind a pervasive sense of blues and blahness [in women who are “chronically unhappy, ‘down,’ or depressed”] is a failure to be thankful” (88).

“Ungrateful people tend to hold tightly to their rights. And when others fail to perform the way they want or expect them to, they feel justified in making demands and retaliating emotionally” (p. 88).

Nancy asks, “As a rule, are you easily contented with what God provides, or do you find yourself resenting difficult circumstances or people and becoming demanding or depressed when others fail to meet your expectations? (89)

  1. A grateful heart will be revealed and expressed by thankful words, while and unthankful heart will manifest itself in murmuring and complaining (89-91).

“Hear what people are saying when they talk about the everyday events of their lives, and you’ll see in an instant the difference between gratitude and ingratitude” (p. 90).

  1. Thankful people are refreshing, life-giving springs, while unthankful people pull others down with them into the stagnant pools of their selfish, demanding, unhappy ways (91-93).

We want to be people who make “Jesus and His gospel winsome to all who come within the reach of [our] grateful, ‘happy spirit’” (p. 93).

After reading through these characteristics, I sadly find myself falling more often than not into the whining category. By God’s grace and by some disciplined thinking and speaking, I want to rather be a worshiper.

So, what are you? Are you a worshiper or a whiner?

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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