By Pastor Eric

Complaining…. It’s something we all do at some point in our lives, for various reasons. We complain about politics, gas prices, family stuff, work, our relationships, about traffic, we complain about other drivers, the weather, money, our neighbors, our weight, school, and the list could go on. In some cases our complaining brings out an “inner beast” that becomes infuriated with our circumstances and surroundings. The “beast” is driven by strong opinions, those things that inform us (social media, news), traditions, culture, and even our faith. Our desire to be “right” and to make our point fuels that “beast.” Lord forbid that we would come in contact with someone who doesn’t agree with us or who sees things another way……the “beast” rears its ugly head and all the defense systems go on overload. At this point, we aren’t even able to carry on a rational or civil conversation. What’s even worse is when we get together in groups who think like we do, complaining and getting worked up over a meal. 

A couple weeks ago, I decided to eat in a new restaurant, a place where I wouldn’t really know anyone. It’s nice to have some quiet time every now and then. As the waitress poured my coffee, I noticed a group of people sitting at a table not far from mine. As I sat there flipping through the emails on my phone, I could hear most of the conversation at the table. 

“Pastor ‘so and so’ wouldn’t know what preaching was if it hit him in the head.” 

“I didn’t get a thing out of his message on Sunday, did he spend any time preparing?”

“What about that praise band this week, did they even practice?”

“If this keeps up, we might have to shop around for a new place to worship.” 

The “beast” was out and present as the group continued their barrage of complaints about the church, its worship, its pastors, and their own brothers and sisters.

As they showed no restraint or care for their surroundings, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one listening in on their conversations. They had a captive audience in the dining room, taking in every word of the beast-inspired sermon which was shaping a negative picture of the church, its people, their faith community, and its own leadership. My heart broke as I thought about the negative impact this must be having on the people listening in. What if there was someone searching for the gospel in that dining room that day, how would that shape their thinking about the church? What would this reinforce in someone who has been hurt by the church in the past, still searching? How would this build up God’s Kingdom or help spread the gospel? How would this public “complaint session” point to the church and to God in a life giving way? IT WOULDN’T!! I was embarrassed, if even only for a moment, to call myself a Christian.

What about you brothers and sisters? As you gather together in your groups on a weekly basis, in many different places and ways…….what are the people around you hearing as you fellowship in conversation? We certainly have a right to our opinions and to the way we feel about certain things (about the church and the world) but brothers and sisters, we have a much greater RESPONSIBILITY about how we express those things, where we share our thoughts, and our obedience to representing the church and our Father in Heaven in a life-giving, Kingdom-building way! As followers of Christ we are called to lift up, encourage, to give life, to be kind, to be slow to anger, to be compassionate, considerate, and to let all of our hearts, thoughts, actions, and words point to the goodness and grace of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” Ephesians 4:29. William J. Toms was quoted as saying, “Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads.”

Brothers and sisters, replace the “beast” with your “best,” with Jesus! Remember that the world is listening and watching……what are they hearing and seeing from you? 

“Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.” James 5:9


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