Complainers 

Learn to be a thanker rather than a complainer.

During the Israelites’ journey from Egypt they frequently grumbled, rebelled and on more than one occasion nearly stoned Moses. Even Moses and his brother Aaron, were stopped from going into the promised land because of their complaining.

Despite the amazing events of their escape from Egypt (where they had lived as slaves), the rich donations given by Egyptians, the crossing of the red sea, manna and quail literally from heaven, water from rocks and victories against armies who blocked their path, they still complained about the lack of food variety, how it had been more comfortable in the Egypt and why was Moses in charge.

Their complaining leads to God almost wiping them out in his anger, those left punished by being told that their generation will not enter the promised land, with 2 exceptions Caleb and Joshua.

Both these men had consistently reacted to the same difficulties that the others faced with trust in God rather than complaints.

Paul in his letters again and again tells us to be thankful, which is the opposite of complaining.

Yes there are examples of complaints against God in the Psalms, and our communication with God needs to be real and at times emotional.

In Dale Carnegie’s book How to make friends and influence people, he explains that complaining and critising may make us feel better but doesn’t have the desired effect on other people, people are not wired to react well to complaints. Having worked in customer service for many years I often found I reacted better to customers who didn’t negatively complain.

Christians like the Israelites have been set free from slavery, this time from slavery to sin. God blesses us again and again with his wisdom, with provision, with his hope, joy and peace and so many other things. So if we moan and critise and complain we are not living in the fruit of what God has given us, we are still harking back to Egypt.

Love one another 

Jesus’ way challenges us still, it’s not an easy well trodden path, following Jesus (which is what a Christian should be) is difficult, we daily have to surrender our own human selfishness and walk his narrow path.

John records in his gospel that Jesus laid down a challenge to his disciples (followers), by giving them a new command to love one another as he had loved them. This was going to be very hard, the disciples were not a naturally huggey feeley group, they were fishermen, ex-terrorists and tax collectors among other things. They argued, they fell out, they undermined each other, they followed Jesus for many reasons, loving each other was not one of them.

Love not Like

Most importantly Jesus had not ask them and doesn’t ask us to like everyone, we don’t have smile and pretend we are best friends, we don’t have hang out with each other. I am not going to get on with every christian, personalities will clash.

What Jesus asks us to do is to love other Christians, in the same way he loves us, so what does this mean?

Jesus’ Love

Most importantly Jesus’ love was not a feeling that went up and down based on his mood, his love was action, it just was.

Costly Love

Jesus laid down his live for us – that was the best demonstration of his love for us, we need to copy him and do the same.

We ought to lay down our lives for the brothers – 1 John 3 v 16-18

Sometimes this means we need to actually trade our lives for others, I imagine that many of our brothers and sisters in countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have had to make this choice.

For most of us it means counting our lives as less important than our Christian brother and sisters.

Caring Love

Jesus cared for his disciples, he was protective of them, he wanted the best for them. Sometimes that meant challenging them, love is not always looking for peace in every situation. To guard each other that may mean snatching some from the fire (as Jude puts it).

We need to do this in love, otherwise we become a hostile critic. Its a bit like caring for a child, if you love them you will stop them doing something that harms them.

Committed Love

Jesus knew his disciples would fail and yet he was committed to them, he didn’t give up on them. He showed his love by restoring Peter who had denied him.

Other Christians will fail us, they are not perfect – Jesus hasn’t finished with them yet, just like he hasn’t finished with you – the love we need to use takes this into account.

Inclusive Love

Jesus loved all regardless of their background. The Church is meant to be diverse, people who shouldn’t get on , should show their love for each other.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave or free, male or female, you are all one in Christ Jesus – Galatians 3 v 28

Commanded Love

Jesus commands us to love each other, therefore he will give us the love.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5 v 5

Love is not a feeling, it is an action, commanded love means we love even when we don’t feel like it.