I've been studying the book of Philippians in my devos. I'm in chapter 2 now and the main idea of the chapter so far is that we should live humbly with each other. Paul then shows how Jesus was the ultimate example of humbleness. After the description of our Perfect Example, Paul reminds us to live blameless lives, but he reasurres us that God is "working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." It's a good thing He gives us the power to please Him, because the next verse would be nearly impossible without that power: "Do everything without complaining and arguing."
WHAT?!!! That seems nearly impossible! Without even thinking, I start to complain or to argue. And how does this tie into being humble, anyway? Well, if I am humbly putting others first, then I'm not complaining when the situation isn't the way I'd like it. If I'm humbly putting you first, I can choose to not argue with you when we don't agree.
A long time ago I determined I did not want to be a bitter old woman. As the pastor reminded the graduates in church on Sunday, bitterness starts when you're young. If you complain constantly as a young adult, you will as an older adult, too.
We all know people who complain nonstop. In fact, the Songhai have a proverb about complainers: The complainer is one who when given a piece of liver will find bones in it. We all know plenty of people who can find bones in the liver! And we really don't enjoy being around them. Neither are they a good testimony because the next verse says "so that no one can criticize you." Then we can "shine like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people."
I also know people who aren't complainers, and my Great-Aunt Jeanette is the perfect example of somebody who doesn't complain. On the rare occasions that Aunt Jeanette has complained about something, she has immediately seen the humor in the situation. Not only can she laugh at situations, but she can laugh at herself. If the situation is not at all funny, she is quick to see how God is working good in a difficult time. She isn't walking around with an un-realistic, rose-colored view of the world. She faces up to difficult and bad things, but she can talk about them without complaining.
Do you know her secret? When we were at her house at Easter, John was kneeling by her bed which she had graciously given to us for the weekend. She came in and saw him and said, "There's a cushion under the bed to kneel on if you want to use it." Aunt Jeanette is 92 years old and she still kneels down by her bed to pray!! Now, I'm not saying that you're not very spiritual if you reach that age and you can no longer kneel. She's been blessed with extraordinary good health. But I believe that prayer is her secret to not being a complaining person. She takes all the difficult situations she faces to the Lord. Any complaining she does, goes past the Saviour first.
That's the kind of person I want to be. One who does not complain or argue because I realize who energizes me to live in a way that shows the results of my salvation. One who does not complain or argue because I've spent time with the Lord and I know He's in control.