|Posted on August 13, 2020 at 11:05 AM|
It’s easy for me to complain about the world falling apart and our nation “going to hell in a handbasket”. Politicians are corrupt liars, bureaucrats are lazy and selfish, and corporate executives are greedy and uncaring. The media focus is only on the negative and sensational, the rhetoric divisive, and the propaganda is confusing. Although I have learned to avoid a steady diet of the 24-hour news cycle on television I still get caught in the turmoil of social media and have to fight a sense of discouragement and hopelessness daily. Naturally, I think the best thing for me to do is complain about the things I don’t like believing that the more I complain the sooner things will get better.
But let’s carry that attitude a bit further. Getting no results from my own complaints I might search the complaints of others for those that are similar, if not exactly, like mine. The collective complaint is sure to carry more weight than an individual complaint, so I find a modicum of encouragement from others who complain as much as I do. We might even form a complaint club and encourage each other in discovering new ways to complain about the same things. If I add to the club a corrupt politician or two backed by a wealthy corporate executive and create some novel sensation for the media to feed on, my complaint club has turned into a movement.
As Christians we have every political right to play such games. But Paul’s advice in Philippians 2: 14 offers a better way to live, “Do all things without murmurings and disputing’s.” For most of us this advice seems to be impossible since there is so much wrong in the world around us and our only option seems to be complaining about it. In fact, if we followed this advice we might find ourselves without anything to talk about at all. Hence, another of Paul’s one liner advice in 1 Thessalonians 4: 11, “And that ye study to be quiet…” Not only are we advised to quit complaining and arguing, but also to keep our mouth shut!
Is Paul against free speech? Not at all. He is against hate speech. In Ephesians 4: 29 he urges us to, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearer.” Corrupt communication is that which is meant to tear another person down, a fitting description of the majority of what is passed off as “news” today. Instead of tearing people down with our words we can actually build them up by the grace of God. Only words motivated by authentic faith and genuine love will minister grace to the hearers and edify them personally.
Instead of simply complaining about the people and things that we consider to be wrong in the world, we have the potential to speak words that will make a real difference. We can actually keep our mouth shut long enough to hear the indwelling Spirit assure us that we are ok despite the craziness around us. That assurance will give us the hope we need to actually speak life words to build others up. Even those with whom we disagree are people who need to be treated with the love and respect that will build them up personally and minister grace to them. Rather than magnify the problems by our complaints we can begin to find solutions by listening to the Spirit assure us personally and teach us what to say and do to love others.