The Very Easy Extremely Hard Way to Stand Out

complaints-for-timeshares

When we Christians talk about standing out as salt and light in the world, many different things come to mind–

We need to love, for the world hates.

We need to be peacemakers, for the world is full of anger.

We need to love righteousness, for the world loves evil.

We need to be pure, for the world is dirty.

But God has been teaching me that there is another way that we need to stand out to the world around us. May I suggest that one easy {but extremely hard} way to stand out is to–

Rest calmly with a heart of gratitude in God’s sovereignty, for the world complains…and complains…and complains.

What a testimony this is to unbelievers.

And, if we are honest, how rare for Christians to do this.

Well, let me speak for myself. Maybe you have this down, but I certainly do not. For instance, when someone I know well asks me how I am today, it is very normal for me to begin a conversation by mentioning something that is wrong in my life right now. I try to put a positive spin on it, but it is still a thinly veiled complaint and I know it and God knows it.

I am reading through the Bible this year (yes, pleeease hold me accountable! I am determined to finish it! I would so appreciate an e-mail now and again asking me how I am doing!) and I have been very struck by how God handled the Israelites when they complained. In several incidents, the punishment was–get this–DEATH. They were struck down forever via plagues and fire and snakes because of a complaining spirit (Numbers 11:1-3; 21:4-6). Now there were times that they complained that God had mercy (Exodus 15-18) and supplied these whining people with their requests. But the Israelites seemed to make complaining a habit and it is obvious that God took this very seriously.

As I reflect on the seriousness of this sin, I wonder how often I complain without even realizing it? This winter, especially, I think there are many of us who are tired of the snow, tired of the cold, weary with being stuck inside, some of us caring for family members who are sick or perhaps we are fighting illnesses ourselves. If we aren’t careful, we may begin to believe that these kinds of moments in our lives give us the “right” to complain.

But if anyone had a right to complain, it would have been the Israelites. I don’t want to be too hard on them. Here I am in my warm, safe home with lots of variety to eat, modern medicine to help heal and comfort me, and technology to keep me entertained and I still complain. They were wandering in the hot desert and eating only manna and quail. I might have complained, too.

And, so, my conclusion is that we can truly stand out as a Christian if we do not complain. Instead, let us be motivated by a heart of gratitude. For it is impossible to speak a complaint and a thank you in the same breath. Let us be a light in this way to the very dark, incessantly complaining world around us. And, most importantly, let us remember that complaining is a very great offense to our Holy God.

 

 

2 thoughts on “The Very Easy Extremely Hard Way to Stand Out”

  1. One thing I noticed is how a complaining spirit can really sap the joy out of those around you! Instead of being edified and encouraged, they start feeling bogged down and depressed with the things going on in their lives. Thank you for these reminders, Leslie! Are you reading the Bible chronologically or in order of the books of the Bible? I’ve been thinking of doing it chronologically.

    1. I am doing it in order of the books of the Bible. A friend bought me the Daily Walk Bible as a gift because she loved it so much (http://www.amazon.com/Daily-Walk-Bible-NIV-ebook/dp/B0084IMU6C/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1392644530&sr=8-2&keywords=Daily+Walk+Bible) While NIV isn’t my favorite version of the Bible, I really appreciate the devotional thoughts that go along with each day’s reading. My mom is reading through chronologically. I am not sure which is better and I hope to do both eventually! :) And, yes, you make a good point– complaining people are exhausting to be around! They are true “joy-sappers”! And the other thing, too, is that we have to be very intentional about not complaining because it is our natural tendency to move that direction…Know what I mean? ;)

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