Psalm 34:12-14 (NKJV)
Who is the man who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
Life is hard. It is filled with imperfect people and difficult circumstances that persistently apply pressure to God’s People. God uses these situations to grow, develop and mature our faith be able to withstand the test of time. Those who desire life and loves may days that he may seed good…we live for eternity and also here and now. How can we change the atmosphere of our life? How can we take something and difficult to make it a positive gesture? We absolutely have the power to do so because greater is He who lives in us than he that is in the world. It all depends on the contents of our heart. This is easy to discover for those who will listen to their own words on a continually basis. Jesus said that the abundance of our heart is what the mouth speaks. Like an overflowing fruit basket full of fine fruit until the one on the very bottom is discovered with a bad spot that is bitter to the taste and sickening to the stomach. It should not be eaten but quickly discarded. Many times if a bad apple is found in the bag, no one wants the rest of the fruit in fear it may be going bad as well. A moldy piece of bread condemns the entire loaf whether there is another spot or not. So it is with people who live and work around us.
I have a good friend who is not a believer. After many conversations, it is easy to discover the problem. Over lunch, she confided that I was the only Christian who she knew that she could tolerate. It was not the message of love and hope that I tried to share with her but her experience with hypocritical people who did not share God’s Love but only condemnation and judgment. Who needs that? We all know the condition of our life. Pride hides all the dirty little secrets. Our heart is a fortress of insecurity and knowledge of the things we have tried and failed. Where is the Light of God’s Love? Where is the hope given to us for the waiting, watching, and wandering world? It is often buried in worthless conversation and endless complaining.
By nature, I am a positive person. Whether I was born that way or chose such behavior to navigate a difficult childhood early on, it is who I am. Coming to Christ made my dreams turn to hope. His Word gave me a life to aspire to. It changed my communication or so I thought. Life and death are in power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21) It is true. We are told to speak life but if we do not know what it means to have eternal life and believe it, our mouth will continue to crush our ministry. The lost will remain so and the signs, wonders and miracles of revival never come to pass. You have the power to change the atmosphere of your life. Your home, job, and even your church for starters. It is when we take responsibility for our words that we begin to see the contents of our heart and can decide whether we will be live givers or takers.
Isaiah 29:20-24 (NKJV)
For the terrible one is brought to nothing, the scornful one is consumed, and all who watch for iniquity are cut off—who make a man an offender by a word, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and turn aside the just by empty words. Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall not now be ashamed, nor shall his face now grow pale; but when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, they will hallow My name, and hallow the Holy One of Jacob, and fear the God of Israel. These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine.”
For the terrible one is brought to nothing. The enemy has no power whatsoever over the life of a Blood-bought believer. The only authority that he has in our life is that which is given to him. He can come close to you. Stalk you. Trash talk you. He can even manipulate the weak and helpless for his cause, BUT if you are a saved and sanctified Child of the Living God – his ability to torment you stops right there. With that begin said, I hear all the time about what the enemy is doing to people. What about what the Lord is doing on our behalf? If the enemy is battling against your life, it is because God has great purpose and potential for you. The challenges and struggles that put our feet to the fire increase our faithfulness when the trial is withstood. It is that moment it is revealed all that the Lord was doing behind the scenes as He made “all things work together for good to those who love God to those who are the called according to His Purpose. Don’t let the enemy trick you into talking more about Him than praising God for the outcomes of faith which make the impossible a reality.
Our words can make us offenders against God. Truly the contents of our heart are evidenced in our daily communication. We will be judged for every idle word. (Matthew 12:36) As believers who are intent on being Children of God and one day entering His Kingdom forever, we must become gatekeepers of our words and examiners of our heart to be found righteous when it matters most. But as for today, our words lead to life or death. They bring us into agreement with God or direct opposition – note there are only two choices. Our errant spirit is brought back into alignment by the Word of God applied to our life as wisdom and sound doctrine. Godly wisdom affirms the hope found in Jesus that will quench our complaints as confidence ends our fear and doubt so faith can grow.
Philippians 2:12-16 (NKJV)
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become 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, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
To live in the dispensation of Grace freely given to us by God is to relinquish our right to complain and argue. We have been completed and fulfilled in Christ. Our expectation now is in Him alone. Therefore, we have no right to be offended by others. We are mandated to love them no matter what and forgive them no matter how grave the offense. The Word of God tells us to do ALL things without complaining or disputing. But… Well… Yeah I have no recourse. To be found blameless and harmless in God’s Sight, I must become a light in the darkness and hold fast the Word of life over my right to be right or to be treated justly by the world I live in. It is my profound privilege in Jesus Christ to speak life to all I come in contact with. Do all things, everything without complaining. Brace yourself the next one is tough…
Psalm 77:1-3 (NKJV)
I cried out to God with my voice—to God with my voice; and He gave ear to me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord; My hand was stretched out in the night without ceasing; My soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled; I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah
I warned you. Complaining is our soul refusing to be comforted by God and accept His Promises. The enemy is not keeping you from anything, it is our own fickle and unyielding heart that still holds onto what can be seen rather than the unseen. Hope is hope only if it unseen and unattainable outside of God’s Intervention. It is how we are overwhelmed. This is the moment that we surrender our power and authority to the enemy allowing him to move in and overtake us.
Women – we can be the worst. We whine, complain and grumble about our husbands, children and friends. Those we love the most are often abused in our communication with other women in the midst of comradery. It is social acceptable to be discontent. It is interesting if we complain to become connected. Gossip veiled in phrases like “bless her heart” are killing us softly from the inside out. Deceptively asking others to pray for us or those around us just to share the latest mess or muster up sympathy. I want to be a Proverbs 31 woman which means that I must learn to speak with wisdom and live the Law of Love beginning with each word. (Proverbs 31:26)
We are to speak with a new tongue. (Mark 16:16-18) I am know that I am filled with the Holy Spirit and possess a prayer language called tongues. But in this passage, I cannot help but wonder if the Lord is not speaking as the passage in Isaiah when the seraphim touched the prophet’s tongue with a coal from the altar. Is this not a call for clean communication and refined speech? I wonder if we spoke life in our homes, workplace and churches if the signs, wonders and miracles might return. Are they torn apart before they manifest by our backbiting language and choice not to love? Life and death are in the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)
What would happen if our goal in each day was to utter only praise and only say what God has to say? Would it make a difference? I think so. When Moses petitioned the Lord, yet again, concerning his wayward bunch of wanderers in Numbers 11:1-3, it was because their complaining had sparked God’s Anger. Complaining displeases the Lord. It is a sinful problem that must be dealt with to enter the Promises of God and live in His Peace.
Colossians 3:12-14 (NKJV)
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
I share this story many times so if you have heard it before my apologies. When our son was undergoing cancer treatment including chemotherapy and radiation, we stayed in a facility provided by the American Cancer Society free of cost. I stayed with him in a one bedroom suite so I could care for him. The twin bed was hard with a plastic mattress cover that crinkled when you moved. Throughout the night, I the steady clicking of the machine that provided nourishment through the feeding tube kept me awake. With neighbors on either side, if someone could not sleep or was ill you could hear it through the thin walls. Toward the end of his treatment, I was getting up for an early morning appointment. My body ached from the uncomfortable bed and exhaustion. As I woke him up, the effects of radiation were evident. I could feel the heat in the darkness so I turned on the light. His ears were separating from his head as the skin was burning and breaking down from the inside out. The ointment on my fingers would melt before I could get it to his skin. He would wince as tears ran down his face silently. Not a word. He did not cry out. He did not complain. He did not gripe or grumble. I told him that it was okay to voice a complaint or tell God this “stunk” not my exact words to be honest. He looked at me and said, “What good will complaining do? It won’t change anything and I only see it making it worse.” I felt so small in the midst of such wisdom. His words were sent by the Lord to instruct me that day. I cannot escape the wisdom in them even today now that the battle is won. Normal life does not impact me as it used to. Complaining is not worth the breath or energy offered. It is in constantly expressing our affirmation and acceptance of the Lord, His Will, His Way and His Word in our life that changes the atmosphere and conditions of our life.
Grumbling and complaining expresses dissatisfaction with God’s Love and Care for us. It is evidence of some level of disbelief that is keeping you and I from God’s Very Best. Faith is expressed when no matter what the circumstances or consequences of our life may be our words are filled with praise and adoration for the God we serve and His Son – Jesus Christ. Not just chosen words, but every idle word. Lord, flag those words that I speak today contradictory to your Word, Will and Way. When I complain, immediately convict me. If I grumble, remind me to stop. I want my soul to prosper in You today. I want my heart to overflow with kindness, love and grace as I have been shown by You. May every word I speak plant seeds of life in all who I come in contact with until it blooms into a beautiful garden of life in the midst of the Light of Your Love for us. Lord, I must live with no complaints!
I Peter 4:8-10 (NKJV)
And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.