Is it ever "right" to complain?

Some of you asked for clarification regarding the earlier post on taking problems to the Lord.  Understandably, you want to know if it's ever ok to "complain".  I am right there with you! What about when we are concerned for someone else's safety?  What about when the other person is clearly in the wrong? And we want to make it right?  Isn't it the right thing to do to call attention to the problem?

Well, let's look at what Scripture says..............

 Philippians 2:14 instructs us to Do everything without complaining and arguing.  That's all inclusive and completely clear.  We are not to complain.  Other translations use the words "grumbling, disputing, arguing, murmuring".  I think we get the picture.

How do we apply that to everyday living?  Is there ever a time to call attention to a problem?

Clearly, there is.  Matthew 18:15-18 lays out the way to handle problems - If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.  But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector

Go directly and only to the person involved in the problem.  And to God for help and grace and wisdom....and to check for any beams that need removing first....Matthew 7:5....

If your fast food order wasn't prepared correctly, humbly, kindly, gently take it back to the cashier and ask for the right sandwich.  Don't immediately go on TripAdvisor and blast the company. If your child's teacher can't manage the classroom, perhaps you can volunteer as an aide but don't chew her up and spit her out over coffee with the other Moms in the class.  If your best friend is an alcoholic, get professional counsel and seek intervention instead of bringing her problem up every week in Bible study for group prayer. 

It seems to me that the bottom line is (as always) a matter of the heart.  If my motive is to help move someone out of danger, to restore them to health and wholeness, then I am definitely exhorted to address the problem with them.  In gentleness and humility, as Galatians 6:1 explains. And this is to be done privately.  Not in a public showdown on social media or at the office's water cooler.  Privately.  So as to restore.  So as to avoid falling into a pit of my own.

If, however, my motive is in some way selfish, if my "rights" have been violated or  I want to prove how right I am or  to inflict an offense in retaliation, then I think the passage that we look to is Proverbs 19:11 - Good sense makes one slow to anger and it is to his glory to overlook an offense.  Overlooking a wrong.  Not calling attention to it (complaining) or insisting that it be made right (arguing) - overlooking it.  I cannot count the number of times I have been warned by the Holy Spirit to refrain from a comment and just overlook.  I also cannot count the number of times I have failed to heed that warning....and oh how I wish I had!

What does it mean to "overlook an offense"?

It doesn't mean to deny an offense has occurred. That's not truth.
 Instead, it means forgiveness and grace in place of demanding to receive what has not been delivered.  It means valuing the relationship and the other person more than our own personal desires for comfort, pleasure, significance, or joy.

When someone has wronged us, there is a debt.  They "owe" us.  Christ's example is that we not "make them pay" but rather that we forgive the debt and then pay it ourselves.  When someone has failed to treat us as we (think) we deserve, we "get that debt of love paid" by seeking fulfillment from Christ's love instead of trying to extract it from the debtor.  And, in Christ's economy, debts we are owed get paid by "spending" love on the one who incurred the debt.  It's incredulous but it's true - when someone has wronged us and we are due justice - or at least an apology - Jesus would have us not seek that payment.  But instead to make investments of love in others (including the offender). 

Investments of love include not complaining or grumbling or airing our offenses.  But instead overlooking them through the lens of Christ's love for us on Calvary.  Miraculously, our own hearts get filled.

Complaining won't do that.  Love will.

Love covers.  A multitude of sins.