Summary: Thanksgiving Sermon

Avoid The Complaint Department

Colossians 3:17

Thanksgiving 2008


* In a few days most of us will be sitting around a table with family and friends eating turkey and pumpkin pie.

* That is, unless you will be celebrating a red-neck thanksgiving…

Humor - You might be a red-neck at Thanksgiving if…

1) You’ve ever had Thanksgiving dinner on a Ping-Pong table.

2) Thanksgiving dinner is squirrel and dumplings.

3) If you have a complete set of salad bowls and they all say

Cool Whip on the side.

4) On Thanksgiving Day you have to decide which pet to eat.

5) Your turkey platter is an old hub cap.

6) Your turkey stuffing’s secret ingredient comes from the bait shop.


* Thanksgiving, if it’s not, it should be one of the most joyous times in our lives.

* Complaining is the very opposite of Thanksgiving.

* Far too many of us are better at complaining than we are at thanksgiving, or giving thanks.

? When was the last time you complained about something or someone?

? This morning? Yesterday? Day before? Last week?

? How many times did you complain in the last week?


* I read a poem about one wife who got fed up with her husbands complaining…

He didn’t like the casserole

And he didn’t like my cake.

My biscuits were too hard…

Not like his mother used to make.

I didn’t perk the coffee right

He didn’t like the stew,

I didn’t mend his socks

The way his mother used to do.

I pondered for an answer

As I was looking for a clue.

Then I turned around and smacked him…

Like his Mother used to do


* Definition - com•plain

1- To express feelings of pain, dissatisfaction, or resentment.

2- To make a formal accusation or bring a formal charge.

* The average person complains 15-20 times a day.


Humor – I read this week about a guy who joined a monastery and took a vow of silence: he’s allowed to say two words every seven years. After the first seven years, the elders bring him in and ask for his two words. "Cold floors," he says. They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him back in and ask for his two words. He clears his throats and says, "Bad food." They nod and send him away. Seven more years pass. They bring him in for his two words. "I quit," he says. "That’s not surprising," the elders say. "You’ve done nothing but complain since you got here."


* We really are prone to complain, aren’t we?

- When our normal routine is interrupted

- When someone disappoints us

- When someone doesn’t live up to our expectation

- When we feel like we have not been treated fairly

- When long and difficult trials come into our lives

- When we suffer, we are prone to complain

- When our circumstances are difficult

- When problems make their way into our lives, we often complain about how bad things are.

? What does the Bible have to say about complaining?

? What does God think about our complaining?

I. Sinfulness of complaining I Cor. 10:10

* Most of us do our share of complaining, but few of us see it for what it is.

* Although we condemn some sins in others, we tolerate our own murmuring as nothing more than a negative attitude.

* But in the Scriptures, God condemns it as a grievous sin.

1Co 10:10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

James 5:9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

James 5:9 MSG Friends, don’t complain about each other. A far greater complaint could be lodged against you, you know. The Judge is standing just around the corner.

Php 2:14-15 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: (15) That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

* Complaining is not just a bad habit; it’s a sinful habit.

* It’s wrong and displeasing to God.

II. Seriousness of complaining

* It’s not like a ho-hum deal,… "so what – he’s a complainer"… "what’s the big deal

1Co 10:10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

* This verse in I Corinthians points back to the story in Numbers 16.

Num 16:41-50 But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD. (42) And it came to pass, when the congregation was gathered against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tabernacle of the congregation: and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared. (43) And Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of the congregation. (44) And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, (45) Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. And they fell upon their faces. (46) And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun. (47) And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. (48) And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. (49) Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah. (50) And Aaron returned unto Moses unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the plague was stayed.

* It happened again in their wilderness journey:

Num 14:2-9 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! (3) And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? (4) And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt. (5) Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. (6) And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: (7) And they spoke unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. (8) If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. (9) Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.

Num 14:26-29 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron saying, (27) How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. (28) Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: (29) Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me,

* As you can see, complaining is a serious matter to God.

III. Sorrow of complaining

A) It diminishes our joy Phil. 4:4

Phil 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

* You can’t "rejoice in the Lord always" and complain at the same time.

* Whatever time we spend on complaining is taken away from our time of rejoicing.

* You can’t be thankful and complain at the same time.

* Paul doesn’t leave us with a buffet of options when he tells us to "rejoice always". It is an imperative. A command.

* When we resort to complaining, we are diminishing our joy.

B) It manifests our discontent I Tim. 6:6-8

* The Bible tells us that it shouldn’t take much for us to be content.

1Tim 6:6-8 But godliness with contentment is great gain. (7) For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. (8) And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

* If I read this correctly, Paul says if we have food and clothing, we should not complain.

* Our complaining manifests or makes obvious our discontentment.

* If we were content, we would not be complaining about what we don’t have.

* Paul didn’t complain about the prison cell because he had learned to be content in all circumstances.

* Listen, anything you and I posses above our food and clothing is a bonus.

* God doesn’t owe us a new home, a new car, or any other material possession.

* It manifests, puts on display, our discontent.

C) It expresses our ingratitude Col. 3:15

Col 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

* Illus. - When a teenager complains about his 6 year old automobile, what the parent hears is an ungrateful child. (As a teenager, the parent probably never even owned a car).

* How we must grieve the heart of God with our unthankfulness and ingratitude.

* When we complain He has to say, "Don’t you realize how much I have given you?"

"Don’t you realize how blessed you are?"

* When we involve ourselves in complaint-giving instead of thanksgiving, we are expressing to God our ingratitude.

D) It accomplishes nothing

* Complaining about a person does nothing to change or help that person change.

* Complaining about a situation is equivalent to worrying about it…

- Worry doesn’t change anything…complaining doesn’t change anything.

* Rather than solve a problem or difficulty, complaining increases the misery and pushes the solution even further away.

* I read about one boss who said his employees were free to bring any and all complaints to him, but with the complaint they had to bring at least two solutions to the problem.

* Complaining accomplishes nothing.

E) It weakens our testimony Phil. 2:14-15

* Complaining is characteristic of an unbeliever.

* Complaining is evidence that we are not filled with the Spirit.

- "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…" Gal. 5:22

- One of the fruits of the Spirit is joy and you can’t be filled with joy and complaining at the same time.

Phil. 2:14-15 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: (15) That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

F) It destroys our health Prov. 17:22

Pro 17:22 A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

* Complaining is destructive to your health.

* A merry heart, a rejoicing heart is a health benefit, but someone who is bitter or complaining suffers physically from their emotional response.

* Positive people are typically healthier, live longer, are more successful and enjoy life more

Health writer – By Melissa Dahl MSNBC- updated 7:46 a.m. CT, Mon., Aug. 13, 2007

"A recent study found that teenage girls who vented (or complained) to each other about their problems, from boy trouble to social slights, were more likely to develop depression and anxiety"

* Illus. - Jon Gordon recently released The No Complaining Rule, a book

Jon’s book points out some of the key dangers of negativity. For example:

* Negativity costs between 250-300 Billion/year in lost productivity

* 90% of doctor visits are stress related, and #1 cause of office stress is coworkers and their complaining

* Negativity affects the morale, performance, and productivity of teams.

--One person can’t make a team, but one can destroy it. Just one negative person can create a miserable environment for everyone else

And negativity isn’t only a problem in the workplace.

Negative emotions are associated with:

-- Health problems, shorter life span, More pain , Less Energy ,Fewer friends Less success


* Illus -

Top 10 reasons why constant complaining is so toxic in the workplace August 7, 2007

Alex Kjerulf

Here’s why constant complaining is so bad:

1: It makes things look worse than they are

2: It becomes a habit

3: You get what you focus on

4: It leads to one-down-man-ship

5: It makes people despondent

6: It kills innovation

7: It favors negative people

8: It promotes bad relationships

9: It creates cliques

10: Pessimism is bad for you

IV. Solution to complaining

A) Recognize complaining as a sin.

* God calls it a sin. We should do nothing less.

* It’s not simply a weakness or a shortcoming; it’s sin.

* We haven’t begun to take God’s Word seriously until we call complaining what God calls it: sin.

B) Realize complaining is a choice

* There is ALWAYS something to complain about; it’s your choice to complain or not to complain.

* On the other hand, there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.

* You are not forced to think negatively, you choose to think the way you do.

Phil 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

* Paul says, make the right choices when it comes to your thought life.

Humor –George Crumbly - A few years ago Peanuts had a cartoon where Charlie Brown brought out Snoopy’s dinner on Thanksgiving Day, but it was just his usual bowl of dog food. Snoopy took one look at the bowl & said “it isn’t fair, the rest of the world is eating turkey with all of it’s trimmings but because I am a dog all I get is dog food”. Snoopy stood there & stared at the bowl of dog food for a while & said, “I guess it could be worse, I could be a turkey"

Illus. - Bible commentator Matthew Henry, after being robbed once, wrote in his diary the following message about thankfulness: “Let me be thankful. First, because I was never robbed before. Second, because although they took my wallet, they did not take my life. Third, because although they took my all, it was not much. Fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.”

C) Remember the goodness of God Psa. 106:1, Psa. 103:2

Psa 106:1 Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.

Psa 103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

* Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

* Don’t be like Bart on the simpsons…

Illus. -George R. Dillahunty- In one of the episodes of the television cartoon show, "The Simpsons," Bart is asked to say grace and he prays, "Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing."

Deut 8:11-18 Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: (12) Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; (13) And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; (14) Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; (15) Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; (16) Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; (17) And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. (18) But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he swore unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

D) Refocus your mind

* Paul didn’t focus on the negative aspects of his prison stay; he focused on the positive.

* Instead of complaining about his uncomfortable situation, he thanked God that others were being inspired to preach the gospel because of his imprisonment.

Poem from Tom Shepard - How to Observe Thanksgiving

Count your blessings instead of your crosses;

Count your gains instead of your losses.

Count your joys instead of your woes;

Count your friends instead of your foes.

Count your smiles instead of your tears;

Count your courage instead of your fears.

Count your full years instead of your lean;

Count your kind deeds instead of your mean.

Count your health instead of your wealth;

Count on God instead of yourself.