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Tuesday, March 11, 2008


                      STOP COMPLAINING

As human beings, we are never satisfied.  We want everything perfect and we want to have a good time.  Here in America, in particular, life has become a non-stop party.  It’s all about me.

This worldview and these behaviors are diametrically opposed to the teachings of scripture.

From a political standpoint, in the Western world we are overly concerned with our rights; human rights and civil rights.  We expect the law to vindicate us.

But, it is the Lord who justifies.

In life we are all wronged, cheated and robbed at some point.  Some more than others.  How should we deal with mistreatment?  What does the bible say?

In the Apostle Peter’s first epistle he teaches us:

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.  For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully.

For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently?  But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.  For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example , that you should follow… (1 Peter 2:18-21).

These verses seem to be, on first blush, directed to servants and slaves.  What possible relevance could this have for us in our modern lives?  First of all, we are all “servants” of the Lord, in a manner of speaking.  Beyond that, these words speak to the very heart of living the gospel; sacrifice.  Far too often these verses have been limited to the backwater of servant-master relations when, in reality, they are analogous to all of our everyday lives.

How so?

Simon Peter is talking about enduring “grief” and “suffering.”  We all are frequently mistreated or wronged, through no fault of our own, just like a servant with a harsh master.  Perhaps, you’re a worker with a mean boss.  Maybe a cop just wrote you a ticket and you didn’t even do anything.  How should we respond on these occasions? 

Should we complain?  Get mad and fight? File a lawsuit? 

No.  Absolutely not!

These are the most natural human responses but these are not the responses that Christians should be making in a knee-jerk fashion.  We are supposed to emulate Jesus Christ who suffered even though he had done no wrong.  He didn’t complain, He didn’t fight back; indeed, He “opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).  While He was being brutalized on the cross He did open His mouth, briefly, but only to forgive His tormentors.

I’ve heard preachers say, “Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean that you have to let people walk all over you.”  Well, actually it does.

None of us are perfect like Jesus, and none of us are completely obedient to God’s will or His word.  Therefore, we are already guilty, in a way.  Whatever bad may befall us in our lives, how innocent are we really?

Peter goes on to say the following in the next chapter: “…it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:17).  Understand, that being an obedient Christian doesn’t mean that tragedy will never cross your path.  You will be called upon to challenge evil and evil people will not be thrilled with you.  You will probably be mocked, or worse, precisely for your faith.

If you complain and moan when you endure grief and suffer, as Peter says, this is not “commendable.”  In fact, you will lose most of the blessing that God was preparing for you because of your faith, imperfect though it may be.

The circumstance that readily comes to mind is African Americans complaining about discrimination.  Forty years after landmark changes in society and we are still protesting, still boycotting, and still complaining.  Shouldn’t we instead just “open not” our mouths?  Isn’t it better to be “numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12)? 

You didn’t do anything wrong, but you’re being punished; but you hold your peace.  You do it because of your faith in God.  This is commendable.  In a small way your example, your sacrifice, will help save others in the unfathomable operation of the Holy Spirit.  Much more so than voting, or going to some protest or demonstration.

The prophet Isaiah goes on to say about Jesus, “(He) made intercession for the transgressors.”  But he didn’t mean that we are supposed to be complaining about equal pay, etc. so that we can buy more material things for our non-stop party. 

He meant for us to go find the sinners, wrongdoers and lowest among us; and forgive them and help them.  Ease their pain even if you can’t transform their lives.  They’re really no different than we are; they’re guilty of falling short of the grace and glory of God.  Like us, they have missed the mark (the ancient Hebrew meaning of the word for sin). 

Making “intercession” also means praying that God will forgive them like He has forgiven you.

The Lord blesses all people; good or bad (see Mathew 5:45).  Be an instrument for those blessings in your daily lives, don’t expect or wait for some law to fix the world.  The world will change if we all chip in.  God knows all people (see Jeremiah 22:15-16).  He feeds us and clothes us.  He wants us to help him bless others (see Luke 3:10-11).

Does this mean that we can’t point out injustices?  Of course not; but it’s all got to be about the gospel, not us.  It can’t just be about one group of people.  We must stop complaining about what we don’t have and be thankful for whatever we do have.  There is always someone worse off than we are.  Help them and know that our ultimate reward will come in another place (Mathew 5:11-12).

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