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A View from the Altar / No complaining in our streets…
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No complaining in our streets…

The latter half of Psalm 144 is a prayer for God’s blessing.  The psalmist asks for pretty much what we’d ask for, including deliverance from his enemies, blessing for his children, prosperity, and safety.  But he does request one unexpected thing, a thing especially dear to men in leadership — that there be no complaining in our streets. (Ps 144:14)

So what’s the big problem with complaining? It’s almost always the outworking of a habitual sin of ingratitude.  It’s true that all sin has a blinding effect on us (Heb 3:13).  But an unthankful heart is particularly effective at warping our perception of reality.  Any parent who’s ever taken a griping teen-ager on vacation becomes aware that a thankless child is operating in an altered state in which every blessing either becomes invisible or registers as an outright curse.  Not only does this ruin it for the kid, it poisons the happiness of the whole family because nobody can be joyful in the presence of a steady stream of complaint.

The Bible’s most notorious complainers were the children of Israel as they left Egypt for Canaan.  Bread literally fell from the sky for them and water poured out of a rock, yet they wished for Egypt, slavery, and a diet of onions, wondering aloud whether it was for lack of graves that God had led them forth to die in the wilderness.  (Numbers 11)

A habit of grumbling frames the mind with discontent and skews the way we see life.  But more than that, it dishonors the Lord by treating his faithfulness like an old shoe with dog mess on it, taking his provision as something inferior to an expression of love.  Even if God answered murmuring by continuing his blessings permanently, the complainer degrades his own soul and blackens the inherent nobility of God’s image.  We’ve all met some embittered and repugnant crank who remembers his whole life as a sequence of hurts and abuses.  Deliverance from such a fate is as close as your gratitude and as easy as, “Thank you, Lord, for this.”

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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