Contemplate This Leaf

I have been a little grumpy lately. Alean (my best friend and my wife) has been out of state since early October. There are significant challenges at work. The Sun is breaking through less frequently in the Pacific Northwest as we move more deeply into Fall toward Winter. It has been a little tougher than normal to meet my obligations with the bills. All of these things combine to make me the adorable little curmudgeon that I am this week.

A while back, Alean and I made a trip to Seattle to visit my son, and I believe we took in a Sounders match on that trip as well. We arrived in Seattle earlier than expected, and we were getting hungry, so we decided to eat at a little Teriyaki shop we had passed on the way. Parking anywhere in the Seattle area is a nightmare all its own, so the grumpies began to get a solid grip on me.

We had to park on some side street, a fair distance from the restaurant. As we walked from the car to the food, I guess my mood was showing through more than I realized, because Alean stopped walking, bent down, picked up a beautiful, fire-red maple leaf, handed it to me and said, “You just need to contemplate this leaf for a while.”

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; – Philippians 2:14 (NASB)

What? Who is Paul kidding? He did not have to park as far away as we did. He does not know my work situation. He does not live the life I live. He does not have to put up with the traffic I drive in, or have to clean the cat box every day. (Do ALL things without grumbling.) Paul does not understand our current geo-political situation, or live under our tax burden, or have to deal with healthcare frustrations we face over and over again! (Do ALL things without grumbling.) Look, I am carrying a heavy load in life right now, unreasonably heavy. It would bring anybody down! (Do ALL things without grumbling.)

Each of us can fill in our own life-particulars and construct a list just like the one above. There is plenty to complain about if you have a need or desire to complain. The world is filled to overflowing with excellent complainers. Some of them have raised complaining to the level of an art or a science. But this is not for us. This is not for the Christ-follower. Let me give you the “stop complaining” verse with a little more context.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world – Philippians 2:14-15 (NASB)

Paul’s directive to do all things without grumbling or disputing is not without purpose. Whenever we see the phrase “so that” we know that we have an answer to the question, “Why?” Why must I do all things without grumbling or disputing? It is so that we will appear in a crooked and perverse world to be undeniably different.

Everyone complains, right? I mean, why shouldn’t we complain. Everyone does it! And I believe that, my friend, is precisely the point. Everyone does this. What is it that makes you different? Why would I ever desire to have what you have in Christ when you are quantifiably no different than I am? Do ALL things without grumbling.

The boss is breathing down your neck? The customers are getting under your skin today? Your teenaged kids aren’t listening to you? Traffic is heavy, slow moving, and rude? Do ALL things without grumbling.

These odd behaviors are what make the Christ-follower stand out like a light in the dark world, like a shining city set atop the hill. We move through the difficulties of life, taking them as they come, and in doing so, we appear as innocent, blameless children of God, free from stain or blemish. It is not that we are self-righteous, or “goodie-two-shoes.” It is just that we are not complainers.

I am reminded of the complaint the enemies of Daniel had against him when they were trying to frame him and accuse him to the king. This is such an awesome statement. Take it to heart.

Then these men said, ‘We will not find any ground of accusation against this Daniel unless we find it against him with regard to the law of his God.’ – Philippians 2:14-15 (NASB)

Live in such a way that such a thing can be said of you as well. God bless you my friend!

Victoriously in Christ!

– damon

Twitter – @DamonJGray
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Damon J. Gray

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