Scripture: (Num 14:1-2 NKJV)  So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. {2} And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, “If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness!

Observation: When the NKJV says that the people complain, the word in the original means to murmur, usually over night, and by implication, it tells us they were obstinate.  Their actions were a constant nagging, critical nagging, undermining, complaining of Moses, of God, and of what they blamed God and Moses of doing to them rather what God had done for them.

Application: A complaint, when properly directed, may be a very positive act in marriage; criticism, on the other hand, undermines the marriage’s foundation.  John Gottman (Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. . . and How You can Make Yours Last.  Simon & Schuster:New York. 1994) makes a few observations about criticism and complaints: “Criticism involves attacking someone’s personality or character – rather than a specific behavior – usually with blame. . . As a general rule, a criticism entails blaming, making a personal attack or an accusation, while a complaint is a negative comment about something you wish were otherwise.  To oversimplify, complaints could easily begin with the word I, and criticism with the word you. . . A criticism is also more likely than a complaint to make your partner defensive. . . One common type of criticism is to bring up a long list of complaints.  I call this “kitchen sinking” because you throw in every conceivable negative thing you can think of. . . Unlike complaints, criticisms also tend to be generalizations.  A telltale sign that you’ve slipped from complaining to criticizing is if global phrases
     If you have a complaint, begin by using “I” instead of “you” and simply express one specific item, not a long list of past and present situations.  With one complaint at a time, stop and listen for a response so that this can become a true conversation and not simply a one-sided finger-pointing session.

A Prayer You May Say: Father, helps us to own our own faults and to be kind and patient with the faults of others.

Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.



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