Have you noticed you don’t have to be up and about for very long each day before you hear some grumbling, gossip, or foul language?
Maybe it’s your voice you’re hearing.
It may seem like a legitimate response to something that just happened, like spilling a sticky drink all over your clothes and the floor when you’re in a hurry to leave. Or maybe someone cut you off in traffic and now both lanes are blocked by slow drivers when you’re already pushing it to get to where you’re going. Or maybe it’s that you have to face another day at a job you don’t like, tolerating people who rub you the wrong way, and being polite to an impolite boss.
Whatever the situation, isn’t it normal to react with complaining, griping, or harsh words to inconveniences and annoyances that are out of our control and threaten our mood as well as our schedule? Sure it is. Negativity and rudeness rule in today’s world. Just turn on the news or any talk show or popular TV series to see what I mean.
But what’s normal for this world shouldn’t be our norm as Christians. We’re called to a higher standard.
“Lay aside bitter words, temper tantrums, revenge, profanity, and insults. But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love.”Eph 4:31-32
We are Christ’s ambassadors. Even though we’re in this world, we’re not to be of this world. When we invite Jesus to take over our lives, He renews our minds. He fills us with His Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness. We’re called to be a living testimony of God’s love to a lost and broken world.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.”Matt 5:14
Easy for me to say, right? I know it’s definitely easier said than done, and it usually takes a lot to push me over the edge, but even I can be tempted to let some unwholesome words come out of my mouth when I spill my sticky drink all over the floor as I’m trying to get out the door on time (yes, that happened to me just the other day).
One thing I’ve found to be very helpful in frustrating, feather-ruffling situations like that is, instead of focusing on what’s going wrong, focus on what’s right. Focus on your blessings. Believe it or not, even in less than desirable circumstances, you can find something to be thankful for if you look for it.
For instance, in the situation with the spilled drink, instead of spiraling down with thoughts like, “Great! This would happen to me! Now I’m going to be late to work,” try switching it around to something like, “Thank you, Lord, that I have a job to go to. Thank you for this floor I’m cleaning because it means I have a house with a proper floor (instead of a dirt floor). Thank you for food and drink being so readily available.”
An attitude of gratitude can do wonders to increase your joy, plus it honors God when you remember how much He’s blessed you. According to Business Insider, if you make $4000 a year or more, you are wealthier than 50% of the world. When we lose sight of just how much most of us have, we tend to take our blessings for granted. When we take things for granted, we forget to be thankful, and when we’re not thankful, we tend to complain more. It can be a vicious cycle.
Try to make it a habit to thank the Lord for at least five things every day that you’re grateful for, and then challenge yourself to increase it over time. You may be surprised how much it will improve your attitude and increase your joy.
“And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”Eph 5:20