The Herald Bulletin

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Columns

April 5, 2013

Verna Davis: Complaints reveal what’s in the heart

One summer day, my cousins and I were sharing warm peanut butter cookies and cold milk. Clumsy me, I bumped my glass and spilled every drop of milk. Grandpa’s dog lapped up the milk, my cousins laughed, my grandma scolded, and I cried.

But Grandpa came to my rescue. He had his Bible open on the table to a passage he had been reading before we had invaded his quiet time. He pulled me on his lap and read Matthew 18:20 from his well-used King James Scofield Reference Bible. “For where two or three or gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Before Grandpa could add his own words of wisdom, my cousin, Tom, piped in, “Yeah, Grandpa. But in this case, wouldn’t it be better to say, ‘Where two or three are gathered together, someone spills her milk?’”

That Tom! He was wise beyond his years. It’s true that when two or three are gathered together, someone will be clumsy. When two or three are gathered together, there will be a man with gravy on his tie or a woman with a spot on her dress. And when two or three are gathered together, someone will probably want to take up an offering!

And I know this to be absolutely true: where two or three are gathered together, someone in the midst of them will be complaining. Ohhh, how frustrating it is to be around complainers!

Complainers never think they are in the wrong. How could they be when they know everyone else is so wrong? Complainers think it is their responsibility to correct every situation they decide needs to be corrected. Complainers think they have a duty to voice their opinion (loudly and repeatedly) to anyone who has at least one working ear. Husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, and even those who claim to be friends complain about each other. Church members complain when no one will do anything, and then they complain when someone does do something because it is not done the way they would do it.

Maybe complainers don’t realize how selfish complaints really are. Maybe complainers don’t know their complaints declare that they feel every meeting, every relationship, every event, every worship service is all about them — all about what they like and want and feel. Maybe complainers don’t realize their complaints and harsh words cut to the bones of our spirits, leaving raw and oozing wounds and lasting scars. Maybe complainers don’t realize their complaints reveal what is in their hearts.

Jesus said in Matthew 12:34-37: “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Ouch! and Amen!

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