Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Complaint Department

Here's a conversation that never happens: "Hello? Is this the complaint department? Ok, good, I have something I'd like to say. And I'm going to be cynical, mean, degrading, loud and long-winded as I say it. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."

Well, the complaint department "warning" almost never happens, but the "blah, blah, blah" part happens all the time. You and I know of people who persistantly and constantly complain. These complaints are so regular that they're literally a way of life; a way of breaking the ice or striking up a conversation. We live in a culture where complaining about anything and everything is commonplace. The social media culture has tremendously multiplied the number of complaints we see and hear every day. Lest you think I'm complaining about all the complaining, my rant on complaining is as much directed towards me as anyone. As I study the Psalms, I am convicted at how much I complain and how little I intentionally use edifying speech.

I'm in the current habit of studying 5 Psalms a day as part of my devotions. Most of the Psalms contain at least one statement that could be considered a complaint. But comparatively speaking, there are many more positive statements of praise and thanksgiving than complaints. One Psalm that has really stuck out to me is Psalm 34. These 22 verses are positive, God-focused, realistic and encouraging. The positive tone makes me want to read them again and again! Yet without complaints, these verses still acknowledge difficulty and suffering that happens in life. But one thing is clear: David intentionally avoided the temptation to complain. Instead, he said, "I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth." I love Psalm 34:12-14 which says, "What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it." If you (or someone you're close to) has been frequenting the complaint department hotline, spend some quality time in Psalm 34 and let God's Word demonstrate how to speak words that build others up rather than wear others out.

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