The sermon for this post can be heard at this link
Last week we looked at a lesson based on the question of “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” The actual answer Jesus gave was not as much what the young ruler needed to do as much as what he needed to give up.
In the sermon, I suggested that perhaps there would be something in our personality that we should give up. One of those personality traits that comes to mind is that of complaining. Even if you don’t think of it as personality, it certainly is a habit many of us have.
Recently, my wife and I read a book (actually, it was an audiobook) entitiled, “A complaint free world” by Will Bowen. The major premise of which is a challenge to go 21 days without complaining. As he says in his book, and I found out in my own life, complaining is an action that is never to far away from us.
This got me to thinking…Do I complain? Honestly, yes I do. I don’t think of myself as a complainer but complaints still are verbalized by me. Complaints fall into the category of expressing discontent with someone or something, criticizing someone, or gossiping about another person.
When we read the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, we see admirable things: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control…..Apparently, Complaining does not make the cut. That’s right, complaining is not a fruit of the Spirit.
There are many reasons why we complain. Sometimes because we forget the blessings of God. Israel sure did this. (Psalm 78:10-20). Other times, we complain because we do not want conflict. That is, we fear that the person we have a complaint against will get mad (or more mad) at us if we bring it up. We even complain to complete strangers just to start a relationship: “The weather is soooooooooooooo hot!”, we complain and viola! instant camaraderie.
There are many reasons why we complain but really, none of them are good reasons because they do not resolve the problem. Discussing the issue with the person who can resolve it is not complaining (as long as you don’t whine about it to them), it is taking steps to fix the issue. Telling the waiter that your dinner plate is the wrong one and asking them to fix it is not a complaint, assuming you use good manners and proper tone.
Can you go 21 days without complaining? It is a good question. I hope you will take the challenge with me. I think that the book by Will Bowen will be worth the read.