Summary: Our feeling that we have the right to complain.
The Right To Complain
Scripture: Philippians 1:6; 12-14; 2:14-16; 4:4; 6-8; 11-13; 19
This Thursday we will celebrate the holiday Thanksgiving. This holiday is the first of two holidays where people take time out to give thanks and to be thankful. But this season also opens the door to something else, the opportunity to complain, which is something we do all year long but tend to increase during this season. This week there will be many complaints, such as the turkey is too dry; the potatoes too lumpy; the crowds too large at the mall, etc. Forget about the fact that we have food to eat, a home to live in and money to spend. When Christmas finally arrives, the complaints will continue when individuals do not receive that special gift that they have been wanting. The need to complain infiltrates every area of our lives and some of us do it with much more finesse than others. In thinking of this message I took inventory of how much I complain and I fall right in there with the best of them, a revelation that shames me. This morning I want to address a "thought pattern" around why we feel it is our God-given right to complain about anything that we do not like, disagree with or which makes us uncomfortable.
There are many of us who believe that since we are Christians and have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ that all is supposed to be well, that we have no struggles; financially, emotionally or spiritually. I have shared with you before how some will tell you that unless you are financially wealthy or "well off" that you are not living in the blessings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The idea that being a Christian guarantees that you will have a happy and carefree life is a lie from the depths of hell. But, because we believe this lie we easily complain about anything that is not according to our liking. Our constant complaining shuts down our ability to fully focus on the goodness of God and the blessings that are evident in our lives. Do you realize that if Satan can get us to believe that we are only being blessed of God when we have money in our pockets and things are going well then he can also get us to believe that God has turned His back on us when these things are not happening.
This morning I want to share with you why I am choosing to change. I want you to know this morning that this message is personal to me; this is a message to Rodney. I am not talking to or about any of you, I am talking to me. I am allowing you to listen in on a private process for why I recognized a change was needed within me as I continue me personal journey with Christ. To help you understand my quest, I want to tell you about a situation the Apostle Paul found himself in before he was executed. It was gaining an understanding of Paul’s situation that made me rethink how I see my daily circumstances. I, as well as each of you, am truly, abundantly blessed!
I. Roman Prison (Teulian (Tullianum) Keep)
You know, although we read Scripture, it is knowing the circumstances from which they were written that really open our eyes to what the Spirit of God was sharing. In thinking about Paul’s situation, I recently learned to a great extent how bad his last days were, according to our standards. Paul spent his final days in a Roman prison, but to understand what this means, let me explain some things about this particular prison. Romans did not have prisons that correlate with the prisons that we have today. Wealthy citizens who were accused of a crime were kept under house arrest until a trial could take place. The poor generally found that their justice was swift and usually fatal. Actual prisons in Rome served as a holding place for those condemned to die so literally everyone in a Roman prison was on death row. Occasionally the accused might be detained to await trial, but usually those awaiting trial were encouraged to go into voluntary exile.
The most famous Roman prison (where Paul was confined) can still be visited today. It has been called by several names, one of which is the "Teulian Keep." It is located just outside the Forum Romanum buried at the foot of the Capitoline Hill. It was Ancus Marcius, the fourth king of Rome, who, sometime during his reign (640-616 BC) constructed this dark, damp and foreboding subterranean structure. One enters the prison today by following steps down from the Capitoline. Looking ahead one sees, on a sunny day, the remains of the glistening white marble of the Forum. By contrast, a turn to the left and down a few more stairs finds the visitor at the entrance to the prison. It is a small room, with a hole in the floor. This was the entrance to the dungeon, constructed by the orders of the 6th king of Rome, Servius Tullius. This dungeon has been described as about twelve feet deep into the ground. Its appearance is disgusting and vile by reason of the filth, the darkness and the stench. It was into this room, 6 1/2 ft. high, thirty feet long and twenty-two feet wide, that prisoners who had been condemned to die either by strangulation or starvation were thrown. Paul had the privilege of spending his last days in this prison.