Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Hardest Commandment?

Jesus said the greatest commandment is that we should love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as our self. That commandment is extremely difficult because of the word all. And it is a difficult commandment to be sure. But another commandment seems even more difficult for me, especially at the daily, practical level. What is that commandment? It is this: Philippians 2:14 Do all things without complaining and disputing.

We are so used to complaining about everything. We complain about how slowly the traffic is moving. We complain about how long the winter is lasting. We argue about a referee ruling in basketball. Why do we do this? What I've discovered for myself is that I actually want to be the one in charge. Not just the one in charge of the weather or the traffic light timers, I want to be in charge of the universe. What I do when I complain is desire to be God. Isn't that really what we're doing? So why does God tell us not to complain about anything? It's because this sin is at the root of all sin. It is the sin of desiring to replace God. We are saying we don't agree with the way God is doing his job and we can do it better.

God has proven himself to be loving and faithful. Look at this description from the Scriptures: Psalm 145:8-9 “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, And His tender mercies are over all His works.” To complain is to say that God is not good. He is not gracious. His mercy isn't as great as it should be. The list can go on and on.

So what should we do if we find ourselves in a complaining frame of mind? The first thing we need to do is call it what it is – a sin. The second thing we need to do is to confess our sin to God. His promise is that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). The last thing we need to do is to develop a thankful and contented heart. This is not easy. We need to take the time to list either mentally or on paper the things we are thankful for. It's especially helpful to develop thankfulness related to the situation you're complaining about. If you're complaining about traffic on the way to work, you might express thanks for a job, or a car to take you to work, or roads that are paved for you to drive on. Taking the time to be disciplined enough to do this will help you overcome the temptation to complain and argue.

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