You may know the two Muppets in the above picture. They spent all their time complaining about what everyone was doing. I thought it was a good image for this post.
I recently saw an interview with former college basketball coach Bobby Knight about his new book, “The Power of Negative Thinking.” Obviously, it’s a little bit of a play on words. Of course I remember some the “negative” results that came about by his actions late in his career and I’m not sure I want to try the principles he has to offer. (I just saw the news headline this morning of a college basketball coach who was fired for this type of conduct.)
Be that as it may, I can certainly demonstrate the implication of negative thinking and how quickly it can spread throughout an assembly of people, and it never begins innocently.
There is truth to Bobby Knight’s book title; there is power in negative thinking. It is very powerful.
Let me demonstrate from Numbers 11 the negative progression that results in the spewing of quail out the nose. (And you thought the Bible was boring!)
Though they’ve been led out of slavery, there are some in the multitude of people who are completely captivated by the difficulties of the journey. The book of Numbers records it this way, “the people complained…about their misfortunes.” I wonder if you asked any slave this question what their answer would be: is freedom in the desert better than slavery in a place of prosperity? Yes! But how easy is it to forget that!
Grumbling and complaining begins in those who have forgotten the truth of their liberty. I’m sure you wonder as I do how Israel, though God set them free from horrible slavery could possibly complain about their freedom. But they did. And it was destructive. (I’ll let you read Numbers 11 to see how destructive it was.)
Here’s some truths about complaining and negativity:
- Complaining and negativity tricks people into believing they’re captive when they’re actually free.
- Complaining and negativity is very, very contagious.
- What started with “the rabble” became “weeping [of the people] throughout their clans.” It’s that contagious!
- Complaining and negativity is in the end, poisonous and destructive.
- this is true for two reasons: first, it will render a person unable to see the truth and the good. Secondly, it will destructively divide a congregation of people. It’s that destructive!
So, how do we protect ourselves from the poison of complaining and negativity?
- First, remember that God is not in the business of negativity, He’s in the business of setting people free. (Negativity always leads to bondage.)
- Second, when someone wants to approach you just to complain, ask them not to do it. Don’t listen to complaining, nothing good comes from it.
- Third, remember. Remember that God is at work and listen to His Spirit. He never leads by complaining and does not divide with it.
- That means if there is division, it’s not a work of God.
- Lastly, commit. Commit your life to the truth of the Gospel and glory of God. When you do that, complaining will have no place in your heart.