Friday, February 3, 2012

A Painting That Speaks

             With a swift, soft flourish he painted the last detail on the paper before him. It was a beautiful masterpiece, the best he had done yet. The portrait had perfect eyes, a dainty nose and a smile that caught your eye. The background was magical and the people in the distance were just as beautiful as the one he had just finished. Leaning back in his chair he sighed. It was such a wonderful feeling to create something so breathtaking. Suddenly, the face on the page turned and looked directly at him. The lovely smile turned downward and the eyes changed into a scowl. “Why did you make my nose look so weird? And my hair, you painted it completely wrong for my complexion.  The background you gave me is so not flattering and I hate the color of my eyes! I don’t want to wear a smile all the time. What if I feel like frowning? I don’t like these people you put by me in the picture. They are so annoying. Why couldn’t you just make me the way I want? Why do I have to be your creation? I want to be my own!”

            While this tale may seem ridiculous to some, it is not as fictional as it may appear. The paints and paper are unreal, but the creation and the creator are not a myth. The creator represents our Heavenly Father, and the painted lady represents those of us that complain and whine about who and what God has made us to be. We, the creation of God, often complain about the way He made us, the place He put us and the things around us. This sin is part of our human nature, but it is wrong. In Philippians 2:14, we are told to do all things without complaining. A complaining spirit leads us to discontentment and forgetfulness of God’s blessings. (Psalm 106:7) When we lead lives of ungrateful complaining we miss out on the blessings of Godliness and righteousness that God blesses the grateful heart with. (1 Timothy 6:6)

            God blesses those that are grateful, and so being a just God, He also punishes those that live with complaining, ungrateful hearts. Just as the artist in our story must have been appalled by the gross dissatisfaction of his artwork, our Heavenly Father is disgusted by our whining attitudes. Psalm 78:21 tells us that the wrath of the Lord is kindled against those that do not trust in Him. Those that complain are showing that they do not trust the Lord and thus, His wrath will be kindled against them. He punished the Israelites with plagues and 40 years in the wilderness because of their complaining, (Numbers 21:5-6) and He makes it clear in Scripture that He will destroy those that murmur against Him. (1 Corinthians 10:10)

            While the way of complaining leads to destruction, the way of gratefulness to the Lord reaps an abundance of blessings. Those that are merry or cheerful reap the benefits of happy, joyful hearts. (Proverbs 15:13&15) In a world filled with people living depressive lives, a little joy and happiness are a wonderful blessing. A person who lives their lives void of complaining and whining sticks out and shines brightly in this dark world. Philippians 2:14-15, also tells us that we will be blameless and pure without rebuke. We will be able to rejoice in the works of the Lord and remember with gratitude the works in those gone before us. (Exodus 12-13, Deuteronomy 16:9-15)

            The Bible is filled with stories of people who lived lives of either gratitude or complaining. Ruth is a wonderful example of a woman who lived a life of gratitude. She was thankful to Naomi for all that she had done for her and remained faithful to Naomi even in the most difficult times of her life. God greatly blessed Ruth because of her gratefulness and loyalty. (Ruth 1:10-17, 2:19-20) Rahab, the harlot who helped the Israelite spies was grateful and did not complain about hiding the spies and the Lord saved her and her family. (Joshua 6:22-25) The Israelites expressed their thankfulness to the Lord in Exodus 15:1-21, after he led them through the Red Sea.

            Although the Israelites had moments of gratefulness, they are also one of the greatest examples of a complaining and whining people.  Various times in the Bible the Lord did great and mighty works on behalf of His people and yet they repeatedly complained about the situations they were placed in. (Exodus 14:11-12, Numbers 20:2-5) Rachel, the second wife of Jacob, complained bitterly because the Lord had not opened her womb but had opened the womb of her sister Leah. (Genesis 30:1) Jonah, a prophet of God’s, complained that the people of Nineveh had repented from their ways and the Lord had mercy on them. (Jonah 4)

            It is easy to judge people in the Bible and in our lives who are avid complainers, but we are so often just the same. Even if we don’t verbalize our complaints, the Lord knows our hearts and He knows each time that we are ungrateful for who we are, for what He has done and for what we are going through. The Lord will punish those that complain and whine, but He blesses those that are grateful unto Him. Don’t be like the painting that chided its painter. Live a life of gratitude and thanksgiving.


Heather said...

I need to join Complainers Anonymous!


The Babiak Family said...

Me too!

The Babiak Family said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bethany Hartlaub said...

Great post Kaila!
I just started reading One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to live fully right where you are by Ann Voskamp. Very thought-provoking.

Yea, sign me up for Complaners Anonymous too:(