This morning I posted these verses as my Facebook status:
I needed to read and type and re-read these verses this morning because all I wanted to do was complain. I wanted to complain about all of the GARBAGE I see on Facebook. People whining about still living at home. People whining about wanting to be at home. People whining about laundry and cars and iPhones and having to go to work. I wanted to complain about HOW STINKING HOT it is and how the power went out at 2:30am and so I had to move from my bed to the couch so I didn’t drown in my own sweat because I can’t enjoy the breeze of my open window because it looks into the neighbor’s kitchen and so having my curtain open is weird. And when I say “looks into the neighbor’s kitchen” I literally mean that I can reach my arm out my window and touch the neighbor’s window. I can hear my neighbor cough.
I wanted to complain because I wanted people to think, “Oh, my problems aren’t really that bad. I don’t have to worry about drowning in my own sweat when the power goes off in the middle of the night because my power doesn’t go off in the middle of the night and even if it did IT’S FALL and so I get to rest easy after a day of going to the cider mill and wearing sweaters.” I wanted to complain because I wanted people to think, “What a martyr for Jesus. That girl’s got real problems. And just think, she choose them because she’s a missionary and gosh, what a gal. I should give her money.” I wanted to complain because I wanted people to think that MY problems are actual complain-worthy problems, while THEIR problems are just annoying and dumb.
So I typed up these verses feeling very high and mighty, feeling very Luke 18, if you will.
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ – Luke 18:9-12
How martyr-missionary of me, right?
I QUICKLY realized (with some help from the Holy Spirit, I’m sure) that complaining about complainers still counts as complaining. These verses from Philippians are as much for me as they are for you. Imagine that. Let’s read ’em again.
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… – Philippians 2:14-15
My favorite part is that Paul doesn’t stop with “Do everything without complaining or arguing.” He doesn’t even say, “Do everything without complaining or arguing SO THAT YOU STOP DRIVING ME NUTS WITH YOUR WHINING!” which is what I had typed as my Facebook status today, but erased because complaining about complaining is a funny sort of sinful irony.
He didn’t say, “Do everything without complaining or arguing because there are children in Africa dying from their drinking water,” even though that’s true (I mean, it’s true now. I don’t know the state of Africa’s water during Pauline times).
He didn’t say, “Do everything without complaining or arguing because some people, like whole countries full of people, live without dryers for their clothes and so when you complain about having to move your clothes from the washer to the dryer, those kinds of people look at their clothes hanging all over their room and think, ‘I would love to have a dryer to complain about.‘”
He didn’t say, “Do everything without complaining or arguing because there are many living out there who would give anything just for one more conversation with their parent/friend/sibling and you are using what could be your last conversation to prove a point.”
He didn’t even say, “Do everything without complaining or arguing because I died on a stinking cross for you, was essentially beat to death, and experience separation from the Father God with whom I had spent eternity’s past in the closest communion with. And I did it all without complaining once.”
What Paul did say blows my mind. Because it’s another stinking, grace-filled, holy reminder that even when we are at our whiniest God has our best in mind. He said, “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.” That’s not even the end of the sentence. There’s more grace-filled holiness in there and I highly recommend you read all of Philippians right now.
Paul is commanding that we stop complaining and arguing about every stupid little thing so that we can be better. God’s only desire has always been for us to be His children. It’s all over the Old Testament – just check out Leviticus. He wants us to be His children, blameless and pure. He wants us to be without fault in the midst of this crooked and depraved generation. If you want to be blameless and pure and without fault, a good place to start is to cut out that complaining and arguing. Start being grateful instead. Realize for all of the things you complain about, there are hundreds of things to be thankful for. Realize that the Holy God wants to hang out with you, wants you as His child, His faultless child who doesn’t whine so much. Because when we stop complaining and start praising and thanking instead, we certainly will shine like stars. Like stars of gratitude and positivity and love and pretty things.
If you can’t take my word (or Paul/God’s word) for it, here’s what Roald Dahl has to say:
Let’s THANK instead of WHINE. What you are thankful for?