We have been in a crucial teaching series.  We have been talking about the real condition of our souls and how to take care of our souls.  I think a lot of people walk through life dazed and confused and wonder where God is.  All of us go through times of discouragement, depression, and anxiety.  All of us go through times when we struggle to see our value or self-worth.  All of us struggle with sin.  These are real issues that deeply impact our souls.

We talked about what we must do to find healing and how we restore our souls.  It’s found in worship.  That simply means because of what God has done for us, we are grateful, and we fully surrender our lives to God.  We invite God into all areas of our lives.  Practically, that means we give all the ordinary moments of our lives to God, our sleeping, eating, going to work, and walking around life and place it before God.  This means we make choices to live intentionally.  Remember what Sam said?  There is nothing more spiritual in our lives than our choices.  Our choices reflect our worship.

We talked about the choice to give God time to refresh our souls.  Remember we shared what Jesus said?

‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’ NLT Matthew 4:4

You and I exist because of every word that comes from the mouth of God.  Our time reading the Bible has a direct impact on our souls.  Please hear me, worship heals and restores our souls.

Today I want to talk about something that can sneak into our lives and ruin our worship.  It can ruin our gratefulness, and our focus on God.  And if we aren’t careful, we can be Christians who go to church while at the same time, our souls are being damaged.

I want to read it for you.

14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may be innocent and pure as God’s perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, 16 as you offer them the message of life. If you do so, I shall have reason to be proud of you on the Day of Christ, because it will show that all my effort and work have not been wasted. GNT Philippians 2:14-16

To live out a life of worship, Paul says, ‘Stop complaining and arguing.’  Why?  It’s how you show Jesus to others.  It’s what makes you different and unique in a world that is filled with corrupt and sinful people.  Stop and think with me, what is normal in the world you and I live in?  Complaining and arguing.  It’s so normal, it’s weird to meet someone who is positive, doesn’t complain, and doesn’t argue – right?

Wives complain about their husbands.  Husbands complain about their wives.  Parents complain about their busy kid’s schedules.  Parents complain about their kid’s coach, the band director, the school, the teacher, and the other parents.  On the drive home, parents complain in front of their kids about the coach, the band director, the school, the teacher, and the other parents.  Kids complain about school, teachers, sports, and tests.  At work, people complain about their work, their boss, their pay, and their business.  And who doesn’t complain about our country, our politics, and the news?  If someone is complaining and arguing, it’s just normal.  It’s what it means to be a part of a world filled with corrupt and sinful people.

Scripture says, to stand out like a bright star in a dark sky in this corrupt world, stop complaining and arguing.  Be unique.  Be different.  Be a person who is focused on God and every good thing He has given you.

Think about that real quick, if you want to share Jesus with others, it’s simple.  Stop complaining and arguing.  The opposite is true too.  If you don’t want to share Jesus, if you don’t want to shine in this dark world, if you want to be like everyone else in this world, then go ahead and continue to complain and argue.  Don’t be unique.  Don’t be different.  Be like everyone else.

To go deeper on this topic of complaining, I want to share a parable Jesus shared about complaining.

The kingdom of heaven is like a person who owned some land. One morning, he went out very early to hire some people to work in his vineyard. 2 The man agreed to pay the workers one coin for working that day. Then he sent them into the vineyard to work. NCV Matthew 20:1-16

Before we read on, I need to bring out something important.  Jesus is explaining the way the kingdom of heaven works.  It’s not like the world you and I live in.  In our world, if we don’t like something, we expect that we can complain, and someone will change something.  If our feelings are hurt, we expect that someone will change something to make us feel better.  Why?  In our world, life revolves around us.

Jesus, however, is sharing a parable about how heaven works.  And we don’t get a say in how heaven is run.  And our feelings aren’t going to change one thing in heaven.  You see, in heaven, life revolves around God.

So what Jesus is about to explain, if life revolves around us, might make our heads spin a little.

3 About nine o’clock the man went to the marketplace and saw some other people standing there, doing nothing. 4 So he said to them, ‘If you go and work in my vineyard, I will pay you what your work is worth.’ 5 So they went to work in the vineyard. The man went out again about twelve o’clock and three o’clock and did the same thing. 6 About five o’clock the man went to the marketplace again and saw others standing there. He asked them, ‘Why did you stand here all day doing nothing?’ 7 They answered, ‘No one gave us a job.’ The man said to them, ‘Then you can go and work in my vineyard.’

8 “At the end of the day, the owner of the vineyard said to the boss of all the workers, ‘Call the workers and pay them. Start with the last people I hired and end with those I hired first.’ NCV Matthew 20:1-16

Everything so far is normal.  Everyone was hired and working.  Everyone was content.  There are no issues.  No one is complaining.  Let’s keep reading to see what happens.

9 “When the workers who were hired at five o’clock came to get their pay, each received one coin. 10 When the workers who were hired first came to get their pay, they thought they would be paid more than the others. But each one of them also received one coin. 11 When they got their coin, they complained to the man who owned the land. 12 They said, ‘Those people were hired last and worked only one hour. But you paid them the same as you paid us who worked hard all day in the hot sun.’ NCV Matthew 20:1-16

Shocker, now there are problems.  Why, what changed?  The group who worked one hour got paid the same as the group who worked for more than three hours, six hours, and eight hours.  What did they do?  They complained.  Why?  They were discontented.  Remember they worked harder and longer in the heat.  They complained because they didn’t like what the landowner did.  Things weren’t equal.  They felt like he was unfair.  Think about this.  They were discontented because the landowner was generous.  And they felt like, they deserved more.

Have you ever stopped and wondered why we complain?  Why do we complain about our spouse, our kids, our parents, our jobs, school, church, sports, all of it?  Here is why.  Like the workers in the vineyard, people complain because they are discontented.  We don’t like where God, the landowner, has us.  We think God is unfair.  We complain about how hard and hot it is.  And we complain to anyone who will listen.

Have you ever thought that our complaints about our lives are actually complaints we have against God?  We think we are just blowing off steam but something bigger is going on.  As our complaints become more normal, we are sharing our discontent with God.  We think we deserve more.  We think we deserve better.  I look around at what others have and I am discontent with God.  Why?  We think we deserve more.

How did the landowner respond to the workers?  How does God respond to our complaints?  Let’s keep reading.  Very next verse.

13 But the man who owned the vineyard said to one of those workers, ‘Friend, I am being fair to you. You agreed to work for one coin. 14 So take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same pay that I gave you. 15 I can do what I want with my own money. Are you jealous because I am good to those people?’ NCV Matthew 20:1-16

Remember, this story is from the perspective of heaven, not earth.  How we think or feel doesn’t change heaven.

The landowner said, ‘I am being fair to you.’  You agreed to work for the pay I gave you.  If I want to be generous to others, what’s that do you?  I can do what I want to do with my money.  Are you jealous because I am generous?

When we complain, God’s response is, ‘I am being fair to you.’  I have been extremely generous to you.  I sent you Jesus to die for your sins and heal your wounds.  I sent you the Holy Spirit to empower you to walk through life.  And if you walk with me, on judgment day, I will welcome you into heaven.  I am being more than fair with you.  And if I want to give someone else more, what’s that to you?  The problem isn’t fairness, it’s that you want more.  Truth is, I am not giving you what you really deserve.

Our struggle is staying grateful for what God has done for us.  Our struggle is embracing and enjoying what God has given us and being content with that.  Have you ever thought, that when you relax, embrace and enjoy life, you are telling God, ‘Thank you’?

Then Jesus ends the parable with a final sentence.  Next verse.

16 So those who are last now will someday be first, and those who are first now will someday be last. NCV Matthew 20:1-16

Jesus was telling His disciples how heaven works.  God may not reward you as you expect.  We can’t go to God, and complain with, ‘God we deserve more or something better.’  God may reply, ‘Do you want me to give you what you deserve?’

A couple of things I want to highlight before I close.

Worship restores the damage our world does to our souls.  Remember we defined worship as more than a song.  And when we complain, it does damage to our worship.  The primary reason we complain, if we are honest, is because we are discontented with life and we blame God.  Even though God gave us salvation, healing, the Holy Spirit, and heaven, we believe we deserve more or better.  And if we aren’t careful, we fail to be grateful.  We fail to see how generous God is with us.  We fail to see that He doesn’t give us what we deserve.  Our complaints ruin our worship.  It takes our grateful hearts and erases our gratefulness leaving us with a complaining heart.

Step one leaving here today, focus on who God is and what He has given us.

Step two leaving here today, stop complaining and arguing and be a shining light in the dark sky of our corrupt and sinful world.

Paul said,

14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may be innocent and pure as God’s perfect children, who live in a world of corrupt and sinful people. You must shine among them like stars lighting up the sky, 16 as you offer them the message of life. If you do so, I shall have reason to be proud of you on the Day of Christ, because it will show that all my effort and work have not been wasted. GNT Philippians 2:14-16

Questions.

What do you think of the landowner – God?  Was God fair, or was God unfair?

Are you discounted with where God has you?

How do you react when God blesses others?

Are you someone who complains and complains a lot?

Have you embraced what God has given you and are very content?

Do you see that God doesn’t give us what we deserve?

When Paul says to stop complaining and arguing, does that offend you?

Do you see how unique it is to be a person in this world that doesn’t complain or argue?

Do you see that complaining and arguing is a sign that we are complaining about God?

Do you see that when we stop complaining and arguing we are saying, ‘Thank You’ to God?

Leaving here today, how will you live?