Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.
The other day I woke up with these words from the Apostle Paul on my mind and I would love to tell you they came as a result of some hard, studious hours in study over the word. No, I remembered these words because I had been doing a lot of complaining lately. If you ever want to give yourself a reason to complain, I would suggest doing what I did and work over the 4th of July holiday. Maybe you would be a more polished, shining star than I have been but I can only tell you the truth. I complained this week. A lot.
Even the day I woke up with these Spirit-inspired words on my lips, I found myself whining. I started telling a friend of mine at work about my resolution to be thankful instead of doleful but by the end of our five-minute conversation I already found myself grumbling.
And you know, as I think about all the books that have come out recently, imploring us to “make a difference”, or to “change the world”, I wonder how many of them could be written about this one little command from Paul.
The Apostle Paul wrote this, remember, from a prison cell, where he was falsely charged of temple blasphemy. He had plenty of reason to whine. He was tortured. He was whipped. He was abandoned by his family and friends. He was cast out of his community and his entire life was on the line the moment Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. His entire life had changed- and not in a good way. Paul used to have it all and now he found himself rotting away in jail. If anybody had reason to complain, it was Paul.
Can you imagine a world where people stopped whining and started thanking the Lord for all things?
Or better, can you imagine a church full of people that stopped grumbling and arguing, deciding instead to submit to one another out of love for Christ?
Or more to the point, can you imagine your own life without arguing, grumbling and complaining?
I think the freedom we would gain would be well-worth the transaction. This is one of those little, subtle ways Jesus changes us into his image. We are talking about being liberated from ourselves here. No longer are we the ones in charge of evaluating the things and people God places in our paths. We were never meant to have that heavy burden of evaluation. Think of the weight that would fall off as we slowly, one-by-one, give our complaints to our Father.
Because the real problem is not that we have complaints, but that we refuse to turn them over to the Lord. We hold them back like firepower against our God, unwilling to trust him with our feelings. It does not have to be like this. He wants all of us- our emotions, positive and negative.
So because this is such a radical idea, is it any wonder that Paul talks about us being like shining stars in a dark universe when we simply stop whining? That is the kind of idea that changes the world.
With these words on your lips, then, take your concerns to the Lord and know that in the midst of all we do not know there is one thing of which we can be certain. Jesus’ perfect life, death, resurrection, ascension and promised second coming speak to our hearts, putting our present circumstances in perspective.
Our God is for us.