It was Thanksgiving. Snoopy could see Charlie Brown through the picture window enjoying a feast with all his family.
Snoopy, having not been invited, watched from his doghouse with a bowl of dog food and a half-chewed old bone. He was not a happy camper. But then he had a thought that changed everything. Remember that you are never more than one thought away from peace.
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You!” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)
Snoopy thought: “It could be worse. I could have been born a turkey.”
The Bible tells us that “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)
Your thoughts dictate your feelings. Your feelings dictate your mood. Your mood dictates your outlook on life. Your outlook determines your actions. Your actions determine your destiny. Negativity is a crippling disease that robs the complainer of joy, peace and contentment. No wonder the Bible has so much to say about it.
Philippians 2:14-16 NLT: “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”
Ephesians 4:29 MSG: “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.”
1 Peter 4:9 ESV: “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”
I could go on, but I think you get the gist. Our words can be MiracleGro or RoundUp. We can speak life and encouragement, or death and despair. Words are powerful. God spoke the word and all the worlds came to order. Since we were created in His image, our words have tremendous power.
Our words are never idle or neutral. There is a cost for negativity.
Negativity costs the U.S. economy between $250 billion and $300 billion every year in lost productivity, according to Gallup.
Ninety percent of doctor visits are stress related, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The No. 1 cause of workplace stress is co-workers and their complaining, according to Truejobs.com.
Tom Rath in his book, “How Full Is Your Bucket,” says negative employees (church members, too) can scare off every customer they speak with – for good.
Negativity affects the morale, performance and productivity of our teams. One negative person can create a miserable environment for everyone else. That’s why the Bible says, “Kick out the troublemakers and things will quiet down; you need a break from bickering and griping!” (Proverbs 22:10 MSG)
Negative emotions which result from negative words which result from negative thoughts are associated with the following:
• Decreased life span and longevity
• Increased risk of heart attack
• Increased risk of stroke
• Greater stress
• Less energy
• More pain
• Fewer friends
• Less success
The Bible’s remedy: “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (Philippians 4:8 MSG)
Have I convinced you yet? Are you a chronic complainer? I’m not asking you to be a hypocrite and smile about calamities in your life. I’m just asking you if you believe God is big enough to handle it if you simply ask Him to do it for you. One day, God is going to straighten it all out, right? Then can you trust your tongue and thoughts to Him and ask Him for the mind of Christ in the meantime?
Because of our fallen nature, we have a propensity to gripe and complain. We need His help to stop.
“Take control of what I say, O Lord, and guard my lips. Don’t let me drift toward evil or take part in acts of wickedness.” (Psalm 141:3-4 NLT)
Now that we have asked for His help, let us stop all this griping and complaining. I’ve found the best way to do that is to simply stop doing it ... cold turkey!
Kenny Ashley is pastor of The Journey, which united with Pine Grove Baptist Church for the first time on Sunday, Feb. 2.