Facebook has become one of my least favorite forms of social media. I can handle texts, even those annoying group texts that keep popping up on my phone every time someone in the group responds.
I can handle email, although it's mostly nothing more than advertisements anymore, but in the few instances when I access Facebook, I remember quite quickly why I don't access it more, why it's one of my least favorites.
Because, as I told someone the other day, it's become nothing more than a constant series of complaint, a socialized complaint session. Yes, occasionally I see a Scripture passage or a spiritual reflection, and that's all good, and it's nice to keep in touch with FB friends - although I don't necessarily need to know what they had for lunch last week - but nine times out of 10, it's someone complaining about something.
In fact, it's become so much more that than anything else, so for a while, I was commenting, at random, "Stop complaining!"
And the feedback was interesting. Sometimes people don't even know that they are complaining. Here's the difference I see. And to support my case and my cause, I'll refer you to the classic, trustworthy Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
According to Noah, Webster that is, an opinion is defined as such: “Abelief based on experience and on certain facts but not amounting or equivalent to sure knowledge." Everyone has an opinion and everyone, it's said, has a right to their opinion.
But after stating one's opinion too many times or for too long, does it not become a complaint?
Well, let's define complaint, too, from the same very reliable source: “An expression of grief, pain, or dissatisfaction." How long does it take for one's opinion to morph into a complaint? Twice? Five times? Ten? I don't know - there has never been a hard and fast ruling on that - but I think we can recognize it when it happens.
An opinion is expressed and then we move on. I've had my say. A complaint is an opinion that doesn't go away, and becomes ad nauseum, meaning it gives me a headache, it nauseates me. Not that I haven't ever complained. On the contrary. I am calling the kettle black here, too.
But the Facebook has allowed me to see that, as a society, we might just be complaining too much. It's allowed me to take a look at myself, and where I am being hypocritical, where I am just as much of a complainer as the next guy. And it's allowed me to take it to prayer and to Scripture and to the Lord. Adam was the first complainer, "The woman you put here with me, she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it."
So was Cain, which is why he killed his brother; and Moses and the Israelites in the desert; and King David and Job. We're in good company.
But they were all also admonished and reprimanded and punished for their complaints. Here are several Scripture passages to prove it.
Philippians 2:14-15: "Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world."
And I Peter 4:9: "Show hospitality to one another without grumbling."
These, and others, are provided from the Written Word and Living Voice of God, so that we might do what I've been posting on Facebook. "Stop complaining."
Complaining doesn't really accomplish much. Everyone just learns that you are a complainer, and again from some first- and second-hand personal experiences, after a while doesn't want anything to do with you, or at least lets it go in one ear and out the other, and so, what started as an opinion, as your opinion, isn't even heard for what it's worth, because it's gone beyond opinion into complaint.
And there's an even better reason not to complain. I've already proven, I think, the Scriptural references against it, but there's more.
When Christians grumble and complain, it shows how worldly we are. For the Christian, complaining is destructive and debilitating personally and only serves to make our witness to the world more difficult.
Who, for instance, would be attracted to a religion whose adherents are dissatisfied with life and who continually grumble and complain? Jesus also said that we're to be light to the world, and where is the light in the face of, and in the midst of, constant and repetitive complaints? So, no problem, go ahead, you are entitled to your opinion, but be on guard that you do not fall into complaint. Because, according to St. James, the Bible also warns that we "do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that we may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.”
In First Corinthians 10:10, St. Peter says that we're told not to grumble, because some of them did, and they were destroyed by the destroyer."
Complaints are no small matter. Dare I say it again? Stop complaining.
The Rev. D.G. “Skip” Davis is pastor of St. Thomas Church, Corry.