‘Do not worry about your life.’ Matthew 6:25 NKJV
Thoreau said, ‘Our lives are frittered away by detail…simplify, simplify.’ Jesus put it another way: ‘Do not worry about your life…the birds…neither sow…reap nor gather into barns…yet your…Father feeds them’ (vv. 25-26 NKJV). Charlie Shedd pastored a large church with many demands. He and his wife created a simplicity list: Make sure you need to simplify. Your problem may be inertia…because you aren’t doing enough. Selfishness never simplifies - it complicates. Remember why you’re here. Put God’s will first. You unclutter by having a pivotal purpose on which your life swings. Drop useless goals. Don’t wear yourself out on meaningless pursuits. You frustrate yourself by dedicating your life to the unimportant. You can’t do everything.
If God intended you to be six people, he’d have divided you up! Leave some ‘world building’ to others. Live one day at a time. Plan and hope for the future - but don’t live there. ‘Each day has enough trouble of its own’ (v. 34 NIV 2011 Edition). Live well today and tomorrow’s strength will come. Wherever you are - be there. Stop thinking happiness comes at five o’clock, or at the evening’s party, or when you fall asleep. Live in the present. Develop a hobby. A change of activity keeps you fresh. Time spent playing is time well spent. You can’t slow the world, so slow yourself. Learn to gear down. When you can’t alter the pace, retire to the inner sanctuary and alter yourself. Adopt the perfect pattern: Christ…whose life cut history squarely in two. Follow Him as He lives a mighty life in quiet confidence. ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 2:5 KJV).
‘How good…it is…to dwell together in unity!’ Psalm 133:1 NKJV
David said, ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity…there the Lord commanded the blessing’ (vv. 1, 3 NKJV). When we strive to work together in spite of our differences, God ‘commands’ His blessing to be upon our efforts. Satan knows this, so his chief strategy is to divide and conquer. He knows the power, synergy, and blessing that results from working in harmony; therefore he makes every effort to bring division. So when things begin to splinter and fall apart, look for ‘the devil in the details’. The sixth chapter of Proverbs lists seven things the Lord detests; among them is ‘a man who stirs up dissention’ (v. 19 NIV 1984 Edition).
Paul says, ‘Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace’ (Ephesians 4:3 NIV 2011 Edition). (He knew that sometimes it required tremendous effort.) We can’t afford to be ignorant of Satan’s tactics designed to keep us at odds with one another. He’ll cause you to become offended over a harmless statement, or read more into a comment than the speaker intended, or ascribe impure motives to someone’s behaviour, or believe a lie. But when you pray and seek God, He’ll reveal the truth of the situation. ‘He is our peace’ (Ephesians 2:14 KJV), and when we embrace Him, He directs us into peaceful resolution of our issues. In fact, our conflicts can become stepping stones to stronger relationships when we make a commitment to understand each other and refrain from divisiveness. That’s why Paul writes, ‘I plead with you to be of one mind, united in thought and purpose’ (1 Corinthians 1:10 TLB).
‘Do not…ponder things of the past.’ Isaiah 43:18 NASB
To overcome bad memories you must:
1) Reframe them. Looking back, Joseph said, ‘You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good’ (Genesis 50:20 NASB).
2) Reject them. The next time a bad memory resurfaces, refuse to entertain it. ‘Do not…ponder the things of the past.’
3) Refocus your thoughts. ‘Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead’ (Philippians 3:13 NKJV).
You say, ‘I can’t help remembering.’ If you can recall your troubles, you can recall your blessings. The most effective way to overcome bad memories - is to replace them with good ones! And here’s some great news: every promise God gives you contains the power to fulfil it. So meditate on these words and personalise them: ‘Fear not…do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; but you will forget the shame of your youth’ (Isaiah 54:4 NASB). ‘The former things shall not be remembered or come into mind…be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create’ (Isaiah 65:17-18 AMP Classic Edition).
Notice the word create. God can create beauty out of ashes and order out of chaos - but it doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll do a lot of growing and forgiving along the way. In some cases you’ll forgive others; in other cases you’ll forgive yourself. You say, ‘But all those promises are from the Old Testament!’ Yes, but the Bible says, ‘He carries out and fulfils all of [His] promises, no matter how many…there are’ (2 Corinthians 1:20 TLB). So bring your bad memories to God and let Him heal them.
‘The Lord…has heard your grumbling against him.’ Exodus 16:7 NIV (2011 Edition)
When you complain, God takes it personally. It shows a lack of faith in His Word that says, ‘God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love [him]’ (Romans 8:28 NLT). The Bible says: ‘When Pharaoh…let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way’ (Exodus 13:17-18 NLT). God sees the end from the beginning, and He’s leading you in a roundabout way! Once you accept that, you can stop complaining.
When Israel grumbled, ‘the Lord’s anger blazed…and…he destroyed some of the people’ (Numbers 11:1 NLT). Dr Dale A. Robbins writes: ‘They refused to trust Him to provide, protect, and direct their lives…The whole premise of Christianity is Jesus becomes the “boss” of our circumstances. We’re in His hands. If believers complain, it becomes an accusation against the Lord to whom we’ve trusted our lives, and He “[hears] all your complaints against him” (Exodus 16:8 NLT).’ When you go through tough times, don’t resort to complaining. Praise God in spite of what’s happening. ‘Be thankful in all circumstances’ (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NLT). Thanksgiving is the opposite of complaining. It expresses appreciation for everything God has done and what He promises to do, and shows confidence that He’s in charge. The psalmist said, ‘Offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and…in the day of trouble; I will deliver you’ (Psalm 50:14-15 AMP Classic Edition). Gratitude - not grumbling - motivates God to work on your behalf.
‘These people are grumblers and complainers.’ Jude v. 16 NLT
Jon Gordon says: ‘My wife’s friend Rachel wouldn’t stop complaining about her job …the company, the economy, her lack of sales…I finally stopped her and said, “It’s simple. You have a choice. You can accept your company’s new policies, come to work with a positive attitude and be your best every day, or you can find a new job. But whatever you do, stop complaining because it’s not doing any good. Change your job or change your attitude…” The conversation was over, and so was our friendship, I thought. Rachel wouldn’t speak to me for a few months. Then I saw her at a party and she told me she decided to take my advice. She stayed in her job, stopped complaining and started selling more. Three months after changing her attitude her sales were up 30 per cent, a year later they were up 70 per cent…The other day, three years after our initial conversation, I caught up with Rachel again and asked her how she was doing.
She told me during the last two years her sales continued to grow. She’s been promoted twice and is now in her dream job. It’s the job she always wanted and she’s more excited and passionate than ever. Is complaining sabotaging you and/or your team?…I was in a similar situation ten years ago. But I learned when you stop whining and take positive action, you start winning.’ The Bible places whiners and complainers in the same class as ‘sinners [who] have spoken against [God]…grumblers and complainers…living only to satisfy their desires…to get what they want’ (vv. 15-16 NLT). Instead, you should be full of faith - thanking God for His blessings and trusting Him for the future.