Attitude, Part 7

Grumbling & Disputing

(Phil. 2:14)

One of the easiest but most hurtful human responses is forbidden in this passage. “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”

The habit is so extremely rooted in the attitudes of some people, it is their immediate response to almost anything negative. Not prayer. Not strength. Not an acknowledgment of reality. Not a wise solution. Just an angry countenance and a loud-mouth gushing with complaints, resentments and pessimistic forecasts.  

There is the man in the recliner watching TV news, commanding his wife and children to shut up and get out of the way so he can see what to yell about, with impulsive judgments, worn-out opinions and peppered with swearing.

There is the angry preacher, reading Scripture only to leave Scripture to shout his rage and annoyance at the audience, made up of people who are mostly innocent, hungering for the Word of God and not guilty of his flaming denunciations.

There is the broadcast journalist who has been trained in the school of “if it bleeds, it leads,” beginning the evening news with exaggerated forecasts of the coming economic nightmare, followed by the next disease to kill thousands, the forthcoming war and the impending global whatever. {At the end of the 30 minutes of fire, a 30 second story of some sweet episode of human kindness.}

But then there is the rest of us, who often cannot think or speak the joy of being a child of God saved by grace. We think and utter our wrath to people who need to hear our joy. We are distant and cold toward people we don’t like. Even our prayers may submit to the Lord a list of complaints that may sound something like, “OK Lord, I’m really mad about this. What are you doing to do about it?”

Social media and other digital communication make it easy to quickly exhaust our opinions about events, even before the event is over. We have something to say about everything. And the algorithms exploit and amplify our attraction to negative, divisive dialogue. Facebook debates have become more about competitive hostility than honest searching for truth and listening. Often when we check the Twitter feed, there is a traffic jam of unhappiness and indignation that has crashed into exaggeration and fake news. We get tired of it … then we … that’s right … complain about all the complaining. Any brief taste of sweetness is consumed by the old man in his recliner barking at the TV.

This consumption of the negative originates in dangerous attitudes and influences others in that distorted way of thinking and acting.  Like any habit, thought habits require humble confession with good, biblically based follow-up.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, wrote to us and for us, about purity of mind and speech. In our suffering we can “rejoice,” though now for “a little while” we are grieved by “various trials.” The testing of our faith can have good results in our character if we remain steadfast (Jas. 1:4). Prepare your minds for action, not grumbling. Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Purify your souls by your obedience to the truth “for a sincere brotherly love” from a pure heart. This is all packed into 1st Peter chapter one, leading into this: “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander,” (1 Pet. 2:1).

Do all things without grumbling and complaining.

Attitude, Part 6

Transfusion of Bad Blood

God Hates This – So Should We!

(Prov. 6:16-19)

One of our challenges about bad attitudes is, to refuse transfusions of bad blood and never donate bad blood!

What am I talking about? When you are bitter and you share that bitterness with others; when you are mad and you spread that anger around; when you hate someone and you invite others to that hatred; when you are down and you pull others down; when you gossip and slander on social media; when you doubt God and contribute to the decay of the faith of others – – that’s a transfusion of bad blood. God hates it and so should we.

We should refuse transfusions of bad blood and never donate bad blood. This is one of many challenges about maintaining spiritually healthy attitudes.

The good blood of Christ can cleanse us from such dreadful exchanges. My obedient response to Christ prepares me to think right, speak right and live right. It equips me to treat others as I would want to be treated (Matt. 7:12).

His love in my mind and His humility in my mind can be my defense against either donating or receiving bad blood. His countless stories of dealing with people can inform my interactions. His mercy and forgiveness is my model. His defense of the innocent can be my sense of justice. His striking patience for the weak can help me help myself and others. His perfect generosity forbids me to give what is repulsive. His warnings hold me back when I’m impulsive. His teachings nourish me and keep my tongue healthy. His compassion is my assignment. His washing of His disciples’ feet illustrates the content of my service to others. His discipline can be my ideal. His remarkable capacity to listen can instruct my ears and mind.

There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
17         haughty eyes,
        a lying tongue,
        hands that shed innocent blood,
18         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19         a false witness who pours out lies
        and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

Prov. 6:16-19, New International Version

Here is a four-fold test to determine whether you should pass along any information: (1) Is it true? Check the source. Too many good people have had their reputations dragged through the mire because somebody spoke of something without knowing the truth or falsity of the report. All too often those of us who should stand out as examples of how to use our tongues are those who are the most guilty. (2) Is it confidential? If it is, do not betray it! (3) Is it kind? We are expected to build each other up. Too often we spend much of our time tearing each other down. (4), Finally, is it necessary? There are very few times that I feel sorry for what I did not say. Rather, too often I feel sorry for what I did say. It has been well said that the highest level of conversation has to do with ideas, thoughts, truths, plans and events. As we analyze our conversations we might ask ourselves just how much of our time and energy is spent on talking about concepts or ideas rather than about people.[1]

[1] Miller, R. M. (1984). Words of Strife. (B. Lewis, Ed.) Christianity Magazine, 1(7), 21.