I’m a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan. This last weekend’s loss in the NFL playoffs left several fans in a state of despair and complaint. On social media, blogs, ESPN commentaries, and over the water cooler everyone had an opinion on the game and most had a complaint. Interestingly enough, the Green Bay Packers are the only “publicly owned” team in the NFL, with fans being the stockholders. When one purchases stock in the Green Bay Packers, they agree to not complain publicly about the team players/leadership/facilities, etc. Apparently that did not dissuade hundreds from voicing complaints about the loss on Saturday night.
Isn’t this true of any sports entertainment? If your team loses, you complain about something regarding the game. The referee made a bad call, the coach should be fired, the QB was lousy, politics have too much influence over the games, the baseball was greased up, the fans were obnoxious…or the special teams lost the game for the entire team. The complaints are countless in the face of not winning.
Like when the Packers lose, I’m often tempted to complain to God about supposed loss in my life. I’ve complained to God about military moves, finances, infertility, ex-relationships/ex-friendships, my weight, even my injured knee. I’ve complained to God. But I’ve also complained to others about all of those things. More times than I’d like to admit, I probably even complained about God in relationship to those topics.
I’m sure there are others that can relate to this train of thought. It’s easy to complain about not getting the promotion you prayed for. It seems justified to complain about not receiving the child you’ve desperately wanted for years. Perhaps the death of a friend or family member seems like a good time to let God know exactly what you think of His timing.
Yet complaining is contrary to the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, as it flies in the face of joy, peace, and patience. In fact, complaining about what God has or has not done in your life actually makes witnessing to the world much harder. If we aren’t naturally drawn towards those who complain, what makes us think that we can present the Gospel while complaining and capture the attention of the unbeliever?
There’s a distinction that is important to make…it’s not wrong to complain to God, but it is wrong to complain aboutGod. He’s given us permission to grumble with Him; in fact, He’s asked us repeatedly to bring all of our troubles, cares, praises, and requests to Him through prayer. We must be careful to not cross the line of bringing grievances to God and making God one of our grievances. Scripture is full of examples, such as Moses’ sister Miriam, who complained about God and subsequently about the anger of God that they met as a result.
Despite that distinction, it’s also important to strive towards not complaining and grumbling with God or amongst ourselves. When we are grouchy in complaining, it is likely from a worldly perspective, such as unfulfilled desires which can lead to jealousy or coveting. While it might be hard to always have a joyful heart, it certainly puts us in a better place to love others like Christ loved.
As with our favorite sports teams’ losses, it doesn’t help to complain regarding God. If our team isn’t great, we’ll still support them if we are true fans. If it feels as though God is or isn’t doing something for you, it’s important to stay true to your Christian path.
This week’s challenge: Don’t be a fair-weather fan. And don’t be a lukewarm Christ-follower.
P.S. Go Pack Go!