"Please don't complain to me", is an often repeated phrase in my home. No one likes a complainer. I even find that I frustrate myself with my own complaining! Why do we complain? Have you ever wondered why it is so incredibly easy to find something to complain about? Why is it so much more difficult to find something pleasant to talk about? God clearly shows us in His word that He realizes this is human nature by warning us about ourselves. "In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing," Phil 2:14, and "These people are grumblers and complainers," Jude 1:16, and "How should I describe this generation? These people are like a group children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends," Matthew 11:16.
Being of human nature however, does not excuse a sin. What comes naturally must often be taken under control, but knowing why we do what we do, may make it easier to overcome. It's like knowing that your car isn't running because it has no gas. You wouldn't complain about the car not starting if you knew that YOU forgot to put gas in it! You might complain about your own memory issue, but you wouldn't blame the car! That would be silly, you can clearly see it's not the car's fault YOU didn't acknowledge the low fuel light! That we understand, but what if the light didn't come on and the gas gauge was broken, would we see clearly what the problem was? 1 Corinthians 13:12 shows us the "why". "Now we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but then we will see everything in perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now." If we don't see things clearly, what we do see confuses us. If we only see a part of the whole, we don't know what it means, or why something is the way it is. That is the point we start to complain. What we are complaining about is actually our own inability to see clearly the why and how things are happening around us. We like to share our "confusion" with our friends, and since they also can not clearly see, we may even find ourselves in the proverbial blind leading the blind situation! I believe this additional sin then takes on a new name called "gossip".
Wouldn't it be nice if we knew WHY that guy was speeding down the highway, driving like a maniac? If we knew he was in a hurry to get to the hospital to see his new baby being born, we would probably pull over and let him pass. What if we knew that short tempered woman in the grocery line that's yelling at her kid to stop touching the candy, had just lost her best friend in an accident? Would we stop and pray for her, smile sympathetically at her and let her go first? How about that mean lady in your kids school who never smiles and is always short with you? What if you knew her husband had left her and she was now raising two kids on a school salary? Would you pray for her? Would you try to squelch the gossip from the other moms and maybe even yourself before SHE heard, and then had one more strike against her? If we only knew WHY, we would probably respond differently. God has told us however, that we do not and will not know why or see clearly until later. Knowing this, we can choose to accept our confusion. Rest in the knowledge that God sees all, and understand that we just don't understand. By acknowledging our own inability to see clearly and know all, we can now allow things around us to continue as they do without complaining. We can pray that God will give us His eyes and heart to see those around us as He does. We may not know why people do what they do, or why things happen the way they do, but we can be used by God where we are when we accept His lead. He knows where and why. Do I trust Him enough to let Him lead me? Can I accept that I don't know why and pray anyway? Can I love the seemingly unlovable? Can I squelch the urge to complain and accept that God sees all? I know that I will try to do this. I know that I will fail. I know I will give those around me chance to complain about me. I also know that God will forgive me and I will try again. And again, and again.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
"Wisdom is having lots to say, then not saying it." I saw this gem posted outside of a local church recently and it has really stuck with me! How true is that?! I have found that I have very often regretted the things I have said, but only rarely have I regretted the things I refrained from saying. The bible is full of verses about what comes from the mouths of us humans. Here are just a few, "The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life", (Prov. 15:4). "The lips of the wise spread knowledge," (Prov. 4:7). "Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue," (Prov 17:28), and one more (my favorite) "For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks". What I gather as I read these verses and many others similar, is that the words from our mouths are a direct mearsurement of what is in our hearts. If we fill our minds and hearts with things from the Word of God, then what naturally comes forth from our lips will reflect Him. If we have starved ourselves of the Word, then what naturally comes from our mouths will reflect our human nature, sin. I have to ask myself daily, have I feasted on God's wisdom today? On those days I have not, I better be careful to keep my mouth closed. On those days I have feasted and spent time with my savior, I may still want to keep my mouth closed, but if the spirit moves me to speak it should be a response and not a reaction. When I lay down at night, I want to review my day and all the interactions I have had with others around me. I want to rest in the knowledge that at my best, I reflected wisdom from God, and at my worst, I only remained silent.