Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Stop the complaining!!!"

My grandchildren have been told that they should not say the words, but I have to confess that there are moments when I want to shout the words ... they are two little words that mean, "Close your mouth!"  You know the words I mean.  There is a saying that goes like this, "It is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."  Sometimes people just don't know when to be quiet, and it is often when they are complaining.  People who complain often complain about the smallest of things in their own lives, while totally ignoring the larger trials others face.  It is like the man who complained that he had no shoes, until he met a man who had no feet.

Complaining is an annoying habit for some, and a destructive symptom of a deeper unhappiness for others.  It arises from a heart that is overwhelmed by life or depressed by present circumstances, and a mind that is set on the things of this world and self-centered living.  The instant response to anything that doesn't happen the way you want it ... complain!  A trial comes your way ... complain!  Someone does something you don't like ... complain!  For some reason, people seem to think that life should be easy, that there should be no problems.  Where do people get these ideas?

People get these ideas because they have too much or because they want too much.  Incredibly, the more people have, the more they complain.  Such is the nature of man controlled by the sinful nature.  The sinful nature wants its way and will not rest until it gets it.  But that is NOT how those who know God, who have been born again by His Spirit and who rest in Christ are called to live!  As he writes to the believers in Philippi, Paul explains that "to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21).  He presents Jesus as the example of "selflessness" in chapter 2, verses 1-11.  Jesus "made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, ... and He humbled Himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!" (verses 7-8).

Paul then encourages the Philippians to obey God's Word, living as saved people because God is at work IN them (verses 12-13).  After saying all this, Paul concludes by saying, "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life" (Philippians 2:14-16).  When you know God and you understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus in this world, there is no place for complaining.  "To live is Christ and to die is gain."  You and I are temporarily here on the earth to SERVE, not to be served.  This life is not all about YOU!  I know the world wants you to believe it is, but it isn't.  It's about GOD, and you are HERE for HIM!!

Complaining makes your God look small.  When you claim to be a Christian and you complain, you are really questioning God, who promises "to work all things together for good to those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).  God calls us to be His witnesses, and sometimes the best way to be His witnesses is to BE QUIET and to stop before you give in to the temptation to complain.  When something doesn't go your way, when someone does something you don't like, when you are called to face suffering or you are just having a bad day ... replace the desire to complain with REJOICING.  That's what the whole letter to the Philippians is about.

Paul says in verses 17-18:  "Even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.  So you, too, should be glad and rejoice with me."  Paul was IN PRISON!  But he didn't want the Philippians to be ashamed of him or to question God's faithfulness. Rather, what had happened to him had really served to advance the gospel because through his testimony the whole palace guard had come to know Christ, and because of his chains, most of his brothers in the Lord were encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly (Philippians 1:12-14).   PAUL was the one in prison, but he was telling the Philippians that THEY should not complain, but rather, be glad and rejoice with him!!

That's how you deal with the temptation to complain - you entrust yourself to the God who loves you and to the Savior who gave His life for you and you rejoice in Him, testifying to the world that your God is able and He is with you.  The next time you feel like complaining, just ........... .......!  God IS good - ALL the time!  Shine like a star amidst the darkness of this world and let YOUR life be poured out as a living sacrifice for the One who gave His all for you!!

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