If Complaining is Your Weakness…

Discontentment can rear its ugly head in multiple areas of our lives.  If only I had a bigger house.  If only my spouse would try harder.  I wish our church members were different.  No one understands me.  I’m the only one doing all the work.  When these types of thoughts take root in our hearts, the words coming out of our mouths sound more and more like complaints.

Why complain about what we don’t have?  We should be content with what the Lord has given us.  Why complain about someone else’s character?  Everyone else can observe it as well as we can.  Why complain about the state of our nation?  The world hears enough of that, and we’re trying to draw others to Christ.  Does complaining attract or repel?  Why complain about the shortcomings of the Lord’s church?  It seems like we should spend more time voicing the blessings of being in God’s family so our coworkers and neighbors will want to know more about it.

Oh, I am stepping ALL OVER my toes.  So if complaining is a weakness of yours as well, here is a little list of quotes and Scriptures to print and post.  May we all use our tongues to spread the grace and love of Jesus Christ in 2014.

  • “Go 24 hours without complaining (not even once).  Then watch how your life starts changing.”  (Katrina Mayer)
  • Do ALL things without complaining or disputing” (Phil. 2:14).
  • Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Eph. 4:29).
  • “But let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!”  (Henry Ward Beecher)
  • Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned” (James 5:9).
  • “It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”  (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)
  • Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused” (Num. 11:1).
  • Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted…nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer” (1 Cor. 10:6-11).
  • “It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly.” (Henri J.M. Nouwen)
  • “You say, ‘If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.’ You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.” (Charles Haddon Spurgeon)
  • Be hospitable to one another without grumbling” (1 Pet. 4:9).
  •  “Had we not faults of our own, we should take less pleasure in complaining of others.”  (Francois Fenelon)
  • “Ultimately, all our complaints are directed against God.”  (Woodrow Kroll)
  • Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16-18).

Prayer for Today:  May I strive to be more like Your Son who, even when oppressed and afflicted, ‘opened not His mouth.’

Paula Deen and Same Sex Rights

These are the two big news items this morning.  Notice the approach to each of them.  Paula Deen was interviewed on the Today Show.  She tearfully begged anyone who has never committed a sin to cast the first stone.  So far the reaction has been one of outrage that she didn’t apologize for her offensive remarks, but seemed more concerned with defending herself.  What was the reaction concerning the Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage?  Words like “victory,” “boost,” and “celebration” are being used.  We’ve been told this is a historic decision for America, and have already been reminded of the Gay Pride parade that will take place in San Francisco this weekend.

Is the media trying to lead viewers in moral matters?  We’re being told which sins are socially acceptable and which ones aren’t.  Paula Deen said some things that were wrong.  She’s been fired by Food Network, but the media is still demanding an apology.  People are outraged and speaking out against her for what she did.  Well, she should be held accountable.  The words we use matter, and we’re all going to give an account for everything we say (Matthew 12:36).  But there are other sins that can be committed by mouth.  Why is it okay for public figures to use curse words or take God’s name in vain?  And why wasn’t the same outrage displayed when the sin of homosexuality was publicly declared and embraced?

We don’t get to choose which sins can be tolerated and which ones can’t.  Even more basic, we don’t get to choose which practices are sinful.  God has already done that in His Word.  Our speech is to be pure (Ephesians 4:29), but our sexual activities are to be pure as well (1 Corinthians 6:9,10; Ephesians 5:3).  Trouble is in store for those who accept or tolerate what God calls sin.  “Woe to those who call evil good  and good evil…who are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:20-22).  May the Word only guide us in determining what is right and what is wrong.

Prayer for Today:  May we shine the Light ever brighter in our confused nation as we seek to glorify You.

Photo copied from HollywoodLife.com

Shining or Shaming?

Teaching (and even admonishing) can be done without insulting or disparaging others.  Righteous indignation is something Christians will and should feel, but surely that doesn’t give us the right to passionately belittle others.  How we speak is just as important as what we speak.  And although tone is not as easily “heard” in print, word choice conveys quite a bit of the attitude behind the writer.  When making a point, orally or typewritten, consider the following reasons to omit offensive language:

To practice the Golden Rule.  We all want to learn and grow, which involves being reproved at times.  But none of us wants an insult included with the rebuke.  We would feel personally attacked instead of lovingly corrected.  We would ask the one teaching or admonishing us to do so without being ugly or smart-alecky.  So if we prefer to be taught with respect, why would it be okay to teach someone else in a disrespectful way (Matt. 7:12)?

To avoid sounding like the world.  Rudeness and name-calling are all around us.  We’re to act differently, and react differently.  Our words when teaching, correcting, or convincing need to be obviously loving, or we’re guilty of conforming to the world in an area the Bible places great emphasis on–our speech (Col. 4:6).

To demonstrate love.  The people in our lives that we dearly love sometimes need admonishing.  How do we speak to them?  Patiently.  Kindly.  Tenderly.  We would never dream of hurting or ridiculing them; we just want to help them!  So we choose our words carefully in hopes of conveying that.  If love is our motivation behind convicting others, let’s make sure no one ever has to question that (1 Cor. 13:4).

To avoid detracting from the message.  Some might think that using scorn or derision makes what we have to say more emphatic.  It emphasizes something alright.  It emphasizes the personality of the speaker/ teacher.  Is that the objective?  Speaking the truth in a respectful way does not dilute it or make it less meaningful.  On the contrary, it shows we care about getting it right (Eph. 4:15).

To represent the Lord’s church accurately.  The world is watching and listening.  They see our interactions with one another.  What are they supposed to think when they see us insulting others (while supposedly standing for what’s right), using words like “stupid,” “idiotic,” etc.?  They know disrespect when they see it, and it has no business coming out of the mouths (or keyboards) of Christians (John 13:35).

We must teach and admonish, but we must also be careful to do so in a way that shines the Light instead of shaming the church.

Prayer for Today:  Lord, may my passionate convictions be tempered with the tongue of lovingkindness.