Raising a child who is almost three years old, there are days where I feel less like a parent and more like the manager of the complaints department within my house. Whether it’s the wrong
show on TV, or the wrong music being played, or (heaven forbid) a new kind of food being introduced, complaints can fire out of the mouth of my child at a surprising rate depending on the mood that she is in.
As a child, however, this in not unexpected. As a parent, I understand that my daughter is learning new things every day, and that sometimes it can be hard to control emotions and feelings at age three. As we grow older, we learn how to control our emotions in a way that (hopefully) allows us to better cope with the things that we do not like and are better able to manage our complaints. At least, that is how it should be.
Unfortunately, as I look out across the rather bleak state of social media these days, I am
bombarded with adults complaining left right and center about almost everything going on in life.
Whether it’s the pandemic, the protests, their neighbors, the church, or even their own family,
everyone seems to have found something to complain about. Now, I will note that there are
those out there who are raising awareness surrounding very important issues such as racial
justice and equality, and while some may write their statements off as complaints, I am not
doing so now, nor would I ever.
The de facto state of our world seems to be that if you don’t like it, complain. As Christians, we
should avoid this mindset as though it were anathema to who we are. Because it is. In
Philippians 2:14-15 Paul tells the church in Philippi that they should “Do everything without
complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children
of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.”
As Christians, we should be shining examples of a life free from grumbling, arguing, and
complaining. We should be beacons of God’s light to those around us who do not yet know him.
When we complain we taint the gospel message we are trying to convey. When we argue, we
can turn people away from the salvation we so desperately need. So what can we do?
Last night I gave my students a challenge to try and spend at least one day this next week free
from lying (we had been talking about truth). My hope is that they spend all seven days being honest and speaking truth, but my challenge was for them to simply spend one day in honesty. I would issue a similar challenge to all of you as well. Over the next week, try to spend one day free from complaining. My hope is that you can spend all seven days doing so, but the challenge is simply for one day. And in the moments that you feel tempted to complain, argue, or grumble,
pray instead. Turn to God and speak to Him about what’s going on. Honor Him with your words
rather than shouting into the void.
I genuinely believe that the church is in a more unique place in the world right now because of
the pandemic. We are in a place where we can show how community can still exist during
separation. We can show how real relationships can grow regardless of the circumstance. We
can show how God’s love still shines in the world even if we cannot all be together at the same
time. But first, we must stop wailing into the wind and cut back on our complaining. So join with
me this next week, and spend at least one day free from complaining and arguing. My guess is
that it will be the highlight of your week.
Choosing Christ over complaints,