As I am between teaching series at our church, I took the time yesterday to encourage the students and parents to not waste this upcoming school year. I understand that the beginning of school can be filled with many different types of emotions. For some, it is a joyous time. For others, it is filled with anxiety. Still, there are others that have fear or even flat out dread. For me, I have hope. I have hope that this next nine months can be used for the glory of God and the good of others.
It was my desire to help my kids and others to think of this next school year with one thought in their mind: Avoid Complaining! Yep, that's right. If there is one thing that will destroy your school year; if there is one thing that will destroy any witness you have for Christ; if there is one thing that will make you lose opportunities . . . it is complaining.
In Philippians 2:14, the Apostle Paul gives a very all-inclusive command for Christians: "Do all things without grumbling or disputing." I have written about this subject before, but it is worth reminding ourselves. If you are a Christian, one thing you are called to is to not complain. We are not to grumble. We are not to dispute (argue). There does not seem to be any exceptions here. Paul does not say that we are not to complain unless you get the worst teaching in school or your child has twice as much homework as last year. The calling is to not complain.
But why? There has to be a good reason, doesn't there? Towards the end of my sermon, I tried to show three reasons why we should not complain.
First, if you avoid complaining, you show evidences of saving faith. Let's be clear. Salvation is not based upon how much or how little complaining you do in your lifetime. It is only based upon your faith in the finished work of Jesus. A person could go the rest of their life and never complain again and still be destined for eternity apart from Christ because they have never come to trust Him for the forgiveness of their sins. But what I am saying is that a changed life follows behind the faith. Things will change when you have come to know Jesus.
Even in this text, Paul tells the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. And he could have given numerous examples of what that might look like in a person's life, but he only gives one. Avoid complaining.
Second, if you avoid complaining you show trust in God your Father. Complaining is ultimately saying that you do not like the situation you find yourself in. As a Christian, we know that God controls all the situations. To complain is to stand against our Father in heaven who we have been told cares deeply for us. Do you believe that your Father in heaven cares for you? Do you believe He loves you? Do you believe He understands your current situation in life? Then why complain about it?
Third, if you avoid complaining, you shine bright in a dark world. In vs. 15, Paul argues that the main reason why we should not complain is that it allows us to shine brighter in a crooked and twisted generation, which is filled with a bunch of complainers. What would happen if 250 people in your community made a conscious effort to not complain any longer? Do you think it would make a difference in your community? Paul says you would all begin to shine like lights.
I really do desire for our families to have a great year at school. I want them to learn a lot. I want them to grow in their friendships. I wan them to have lots of fun. But above all, I want them to be the witness Jesus sent them to be, all for His glory and our good. The way to help make that happen is to Avoid Complaining!
If you want to listen to the sermon or read my notes, you can find them HERE (audio usually posted by Tuesday night).