There once was a man who lived in a $5 million house. But he was not happy. (Hard to believe, huh?) He COMPLAINED that the swimming pool wasn't the shape he liked, the chandeliers did not have the right reflections and the 3 kitchens were not laid out correctly. A friend who owned a $1million house could not believe it. He thought to himself, "If I lived in this house I would never COMPLAIN. I would have everything I ever wanted."
The man in the $1 million house went home, looked around and started COMPLAINING about his house. A friend stopped by who lived in a $ ½ million house and couldn't believe his ears. He thought to himself, "If I lived in this house I would never COMPLAIN. I would have everything I ever wanted."
The man in the $ ½ million house went home, looked around and started COMPLAINING. Why couldn't he live in a nicer house? A friend who lived in a $100,000 house happened to overhear. Astonished, he thought to himself, "If I lived in this house I would never COMPLAIN. I would have everything I ever wanted."
That man went home to his $100,000 house, looked around and began to COMPLAIN. Why couldn't he have it as good as his friend? A coworker who lived in a $50,000 home dropped in and heard the whining. Amazed, he thought to himself, "If I lived in this house I would never COMPLAIN. I would have everything I ever wanted."
On his way home he began to focus on all that he didn't have because he lived in a $50,000 home. As he stopped at the grocery store, he began to COMPLAIN to the man bagging groceries who lived in a $10,000 home. The worker was bewildered and thought to himself, "If I lived in his house I would never COMPLAIN. I would have everything I ever wanted."
The man bagging groceries started thinking. As he did he became dissatisfied with his $10,000 house. He grumbled to himself and to those buying groceries. A man counting out change, hoping there was enough to buy milk for his children, overheard. Perplexed, he thought to himself, "I live in an apartment! If I had any kind of house I would never COMPLAIN. I would have everything I ever wanted."
And the man started to COMPLAIN about the difficulty of living in an apartment and having just enough to scrape by. If the millions of people around the world who wake up every morning wondering if they will have any food to eat that day could speak to the man in the apartment, they would say, "If we had what you have we would never COMPLAIN. If we had a little food, a place to live and safety we would have everything we ever wanted."
Are you crabby or thankful? A COMPLAINING spirit comes from looking at what we don't have, at our problems, at others and at this world. A thankful spirit comes from looking at what we have been given, at God who is bigger than any problem, at ourselves and at the next world with all that God promises.
You may be thinking, "Herb. It's no big deal. COMPLAINING is a part of the Western Civilization Way. We just COMPLAIN when things go wrong or there's something we don't like." NOOOOO! It is serious. COMPLAINING is a HUGE sin and separates us from God.
COMPLAINING is actually spitting in the face of God
COMPLAINING is unbelief, not trusting that God will take care of us. (Lots of Israelites died because they COMPLAINED to God after He had done so many miracles on their behalf).
COMPLAINING is an ironic activity. By COMPLAINING we eliminate the possibility of enjoying what we have. By being grateful we open up untold vistas of enjoying what we do have.
COMPLAINING focuses us on that which is trivial in the scheme of the truly important.
DID YOU KNOW? At one point during the second winter in America, the pilgrims' daily ration of food was FIVE KERNALS OF CORN a day? Can you imagine? The records show no COMPLAINING but only gratitude and seeking God. Soon after God provided a ship from England. I wonder if the ship would have arrived if the pilgrims had chosen to COMPLAIN rather than be thankful.
You too have a choice during this Thanksgiving and Christmas season: be crabby or thankful. Like Bart Simpson, that great theologian, you can say, "Since we paid for all this ourselves, thanks for nothing!" Or you can consistently thank God for all that you have and have been promised.
Here's a suggestion to use sometime in the next month to foster gratitude. Place 5 kernels of corn or candy corn or beans or some other type of food on each person's plate at a meal. Ask each person to share what he is thankful for and eat one piece of corn. Go around the table five times until the food on the plates is gone. Join hands and thank God together for all He is and has done and promises to do. In the future, every time you start to whine, take it as a signal to express gratitude to God.
And then you will be a lot more pleasant and fun to be around. Just ask your friends.
"Do EVERYTHING without COMPLAINING or arguing, 15 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 (NIV)
"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17 (NIV)
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, WITH THANKSGIVING, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)
Friday, November 22, 2002
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