Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Counting My Complaints

What are you thankful for this morning?

I actually have to stop to think about that. Strange, because I can easily list my complaints. I have already spent a good part of my morning complaining to people about one thing or another, and most people would never consider me a complainer. That's how common it is. Complaining is just a natural part of our day.

But should it be?

Yes, there are all kinds of things that go wrong every day. We live with the reality that we are in a fallen and imperfect world. We live in a system that is in rebellion to God on top of the small every day imperfections. So we have a whole slue of things we can legitimately complain about. But just because it is legitimate does not mean that it is conducive for a heart that is one with Jesus.

I look at where my heart is right at this moment and I can feel that I have allowed my "legitimate" complaints to disturb my peace. And to what end? What has my complaining accomplished? Has it made me or anyone else feel better? Has it changed the situation or circumstances? Not at all.

Although our God will listen to our complaints, as he did with the psalmists, he is really looking for his children to maintain a thankful heart. I shouldn't have to work at it. With all the great stuff that our Father does for us, thanksgiving should be an ever flowing stream from our mouths. It should be a natural product of an ever increasing relationship with Jesus but we have to be aware of the need for it. We need to cultivate it until it takes root in us. It is the Spirit transforming us. Paul wrote to the Colossians:

Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. So let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful. (Colossians 3:15)

I like the the word "let" in this verse. Let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. We have to give it permission, to allow it to control. This is fundamental if we desire to live life with a grateful heart. The things that rob us of our thanksgiving are usually things that are beyond our control and belong to someone else. We have to overlook those things to let the peace control our thoughts and to be thankful.

It's true. When I examine each subject of my complaints this morning I see that it was the result of someone else's actions. Each thing was either out of my control or something I was not brave enough to deal with directly. So I need to accept what I cannot control and take action on what I can deal with, all the time allowing Jesus' peace to control my thoughts.

Suddenly those things don't seem so important. Suddenly I remember who holds my day. Suddenly I begin to remember all the good things for which I am thankful. It's a much better way to start my day, praising my God from the overflow of my thankful heart.

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