J. Gordon Duncan

Culture, Business, Fitness, Etc.

No Offense is a Good Defense

Dare to Complain4_EnglishPhilippians 2:14:  Do all things without grumbling and complaining.

This is a verse that I taught my children a few years ago as we went through an ABC Bible memorization book.  The verse in and of itself is very simple, but its application is broad, deep, and far reaching.  God’s desire is that we would not grumble or complain about anything…anything at all.

The root of complaining is discontentment and entitlement.  A person complains when they feel like their circumstances should be better or that they feel they are entitled to better circumstances.  The amazing thing is that complaining is not just single act like saying an expletive.  Complaining is corruptive.  The heart and mind that complains over poor service at a restaurant stays angry, discontent, and entitled for a long period of time.  Typically, we blame the circumstance for our bad mood, but in reality, the bad mood is because of heart of complaint.   And…a heart of complaint is not easily changed.

Consider the list of things that can set most people or perhaps yourself off on a rant:  your job, the lack thereof, the weather, service from a waiter/waitress, the government, your health, your age, other people’s efforts, and the list goes on and on.  When you complain, you essentially set yourself above other people, institutions, God, or whomever else you are angry with, and your heart cries, “I could do a better job.”

That’s the insidious nature of complaining.  It really is about self-righteousness.  Often when I hear someone grumbling, their complaint is tagged with, “I would never do that to someone,” or “That’s why I never do that,” or “I can’t believe that they did that.”  Each one of those statements is a declaration of self-righteousness.  That attitude means that others are wrong because they are not as good as you are which stinks of self-righteousness like rotten meat.

There is even a temptation to do certain things certain ways so that we can tell others that they have wronged us and we have done it correctly.  (This is an awful pattern of many parents).  Obedience is a good example, but using it to complain about someone is not obedience.  That is self-serving.  A tendency to do everything perfectly so you can say “I do it right” is idolatry.  It is not obedience out of desire to worship God but obedience with the purpose of recommending yourself.

The opposite of complaining though is contentment, and the best example of that is of course Jesus Christ. If there is such a thing as a right to complain, Jesus would have had it, yet He didn’t.  He found joy in difficult circumstances, and His example of enduring trials sets a pattern for our lives.  When facing the cross, He prayed to His Father for the “cup” to be passed from Him, but ended that prayer with, “Not my will but yours be done.”

There is the cure for complaining:  offering our desires to God but submitting to His perfect will.  For all of us, recognizing the creator/creature distinction cures our ills.  So today, as your day progresses, give someone a break and don’t complain about them.  If the annoyance rises to the level of complaint, offer it to God, and pray for His perfect will to be done.  Realize that there are purposes to your circumstances that are beyond our understanding at times, and pray for peace.

This article also appears at the Raleigh Examiner.


October 8, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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