For the past fifteen years, I have written daily in a journal. I find myself recording day-to-day events, ideas, and experiences. Throughout the years, I have made a conscious effort to avoid expressing negative attitudes. The bookmark I use for my ladies' class reads, "Do all things without murmurings and disputings." Philippians 2:14. When I see things are heading in the wrong direction (mostly my direction), I simply put that bookmark across my forehead; and, after a few seconds of laughing, we all get the point.
How quickly we can fall into the trap of complaining. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:10, told the Corinthians that Christians should not grumble as some of the Israelites did. "Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer." Their sin was a lack of gratitude. The Israelites complained in the wilderness: they murmured against Moses; they whined over their food provisions; and they grumbled every time something did not go their way. We can learn valuable lessons from the ingratitude of the Israelites. God's attitude toward this way of behaving has not changed.
As Christian women, are we journaling the duties we perform? Do we make a checklist of the years we have taught children's classes? Do we jot down the time spent preparing for Vacation Bible School or the clothing give away? Are we documenting occasions we have visited those hospitalized from illness? Frequently, notations are made as we plan and prepare food for shut-ins, funerals, and fellowships.
If we do these things out of a sense of duty, begrudging our time and effort, we are guilty of having a complaining spirit that God will not accept. Our job is only half done if it is done unwillingly and without joy.
Even if we do not complain aloud, inwardly, we are building up a resentment resulting in mistreatment of our sisters in Christ. We need to be working with patience, understanding, and love to keep resentments from growing within us. We cannot hide our thoughts and complaints from God, and the only foolproof method to keep words coming out clean and kind is for our hearts to be spotless. We need to follow Paul's advice in Philippians 2:14 (just like my bookmark), "Do all things without murmurings and disputings." Paul continues with the reason for this commandment in verse 15. "That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."
May we ever be cautious about recording those "murmurings and disputings," whether mentally or in black and white. Our hearts need to be consistently full of God's love, peace, and joy. Only then will we shine as those "lights of the world." -Rt. 1, Box 109-A, Rivesville, WV 26588.
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