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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stamp Out Complaining

According to J. J. Camp of the Canadian Bar Association, in 1887 surveyors marked the 49th parallel, the U.S.-Canada boundary, across the prairies. They drew the boundary according to carefully calculated coordinates. Inevitably, a few farmers who thought they were living in the United States suddenly learned they were on the Canadian side of the border.

One of those surprised farmers complained vehemently to the surveyor.

“Why do you care?” the surveyor asked.

“The farmer snapped, “Do you know how cold those Canadian winters can be?”

I have lived on both sides of the border, and, believe me, complainers may be found on both sides. Complaining seems to be a natural part of the human psyche. Even Christians find plenty to complain about. The church auditorium is too hot or too cold. The pastor preaches too long. His wife can’t keep their kids under control. Deacon Smith is too old to wear his hair that way.

Of course, we can all find things to complain about outside church. The weather is beastly. Health care has gone to the dogs. Gas prices are on the rise again. You can’t find a clean fast–food restaurant anywhere. Teens are disrespectful. Government has fallen into the hands of lobbyists. Hospitals won’t keep you more than three days unless you have a brain transplant. Whine! Whine! Whine!

I’ll admit it: I do my share of complaining, but I’m going to try to stamp out complaining. I have far more reasons to host a praise party than a pity party. Furthermore, I just read 1 Thessalonians 5. Two verses in that chapter oppose complaining but champion praise: “Rejoice always” (v. 16), and “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (v. 18).

Complaining doesn’t change anything for the better, but praise changes us for the better. So let’s stamp out complaining and embrace praise.

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