“‘How can I account for the people of this generation? They’re like spoiled children complaining to their parents, ‘We wanted to skip rope and you were always too tired; we wanted to talk but you were always too busy.’ John the Baptiser came fasting and you called him crazy. The Son of Man came feasting and you called Him a lush. Opinion polls don’t count for much, do they? The proof of the pudding is in the eating.'” Luke 7:31-35.
Never satisfied! That was how Jesus summed up His generation.
Was He only talking about His own generation or was He summing up the history of the Jewish people? It was certainly true of the generation that came out of Egypt. Their story is one long account of dissatisfied people. The entire period of forty years in the desert was a continuous cycle of complaining, rebellion and punishment to the extent that the people who came out of Egypt forfeited their right to inherit Canaan. Their children went in, while they died in the desert.
And nothing had changed. Not even the terrible experiences of judgment, war, exile and oppression had taught them to trust in God and to be thankful. The lessons of history had been wasted on them because they were as much in bondage to the Romans as their ancestors had been to the Egyptians back in Egypt.
But that was only a symbol of a much deeper and more serious bondage, to sin, which was evidenced by their selfishness of which they seemed unaware. They were the centre of their own universe and they expected everyone else to satisfy their whims. But that makes for a chaotic situation. How can everyone expect everyone else to do what everyone else demands? That’s crazy!
How true it is that people who have experienced oppression develop a sense of entitlement. The Hebrew ex-slaves believed that they were entitled to a better deal than they were getting in the wilderness instead of realising that God was with them and that their wilderness journey was a preparation for what lay ahead. How would they ever take the Promised Land, which was a huge enterprise of faith, if they had not learned to trust God in the desert where they were utterly dependant on Him?
Are we any better? Is there any place on earth, outside of God’s grace, where people live together in harmony, without discontent, without complaining, resisting or agitating against their superiors or against the government in some way or another. I live in a country which is riddled with labour unrest, strikes, demonstrations and uprisings, to the extent that what we have is slowly being demolished and destroyed by violent protests because of this pernicious spirit of entitlement.
Discontentment is a slap in God’s face and a declaration that He doesn’t know what He is doing. How would we run the universe?
It takes a supernatural work of God to set us free from this persistent attitude of entitlement and replace it with an attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude. Discontent is an insult to God because it accuses Him of being unfair and unloving. It concentrates on what we don’t have instead of what we do have. It freezes our hearts and makes us incapable of appreciating God’s goodness towards us. It shuts heaven and cuts us off from God’s provision.
What Jesus said about His generation can equally apply to ours. Whatever our opinion might be, nothing changes the truth that God is good. Whether we like who He is or not, is irrelevant and will not change Him. Whether we believe in Him or not, He is who He is and His word is true. Paul said, ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain.’ That about sums it up.
If this applies to you, what would happen if you stopped complaining and started praising? Why not try it?