Articles by Stan Dean

Complaining

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Perhaps you have heard the following story, but please allow me to retell it one more time. It makes a point which should cause all of us to do a little personal evaluation.


There was once a young monk who joined a monastery. Upon entrance he was advised by an older monk that he was joining a very strict order. He had to take a vow of silence and only allowed to say two words every ten years. After ten years had passed, he was brought in and asked, “Do you have anything to say?” Also, he was reminded that he could only speak two words. So his answer was, “Food bad.”


After ten more years went by, he was brought in and asked if he wanted to say anything. This time he responded, “Bed hard.” He was dismissed for ten more years until he was brought in and again given the opportunity to express his thoughts in two words. He wasted no time in proclaiming, “I quit!” The older monk replied, “I am not at all surprised! You’ve done nothing but complain since you have been here!”


Complaining. Grumbling. Griping. Bellyaching. Whining. We all know what these words mean and too often are guilty of practicing them. Some folks seem to find something to complain about constantly regardless of the circumstances. And we must admit- - it is a habit that is easily developed.


Even so, God often warned and chastised His people for this very thing. One of the classic examples of this recorded in the Bible is when God delivered the Israelites from Egyptian captivity and was leading them to “a land flowing with milk and honey” (cf. Exodus 3:8). You would think they would be so overjoyed to be set free from the rigors of hundreds years in slavery that all they could do is rejoice and anticipate the blessings of the “Promised Land.” Yet, they had barely gotten out of the sight of their captors when the complaining began (cf. Exodus 14:11ff; also, 1 Corinthians 10:10). God was greatly displeased!


God takes the same very dim view of complaining today as He always did in the past. Furthermore, Christians are far too blessed to get caught up vice of complaining. It tarnishes our character and our influence. May we heed these words from Paul: “Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may be blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14, 15).


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