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"Are you bragging or complaining?"

Granny, a neighbor lady, nearly always responded to my grousing, grumbling that way. When I was a teen, I was usually stopped short in a potential complaint by her saying that. The phrase stuck with me over many more decades than I care to admit and it serves me well to consider the purpose of my comments.

If it is bragging, then it is better left unsaid.

If complaining, then only if designed to provide a solution, should it be said.

In a television show, "The Guns of Will Sonnett," which aired in the late 1960s, Walter Brennan often said: "... and I'm better than both of 'em -- no brag, just fact."

Ironic, isn't it, what sticks with you?

Scripture has much to say about bragging and complaining.

In Matthew 6:1-34, we are warned to do good ("practice righteousness") privately without seeking the praise of men. In Jeremiah 9:23, Proverbs 27:1-2, Jude 1:16, Proverbs 25:14, Galatians 6:14, James 4:16 we find counsel about boasting.

In Philipians 2:14, we are told "Do all things without grumbling or questioning." (ESV)

In Ephesians 4:29, we're told: "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." (ESV)

What is the point?

It's been said that unless you're a part of the problem or the solution, stay out of it.

Social media is rampant today. Complaining about it (something often done by people of my generation) won't erase it. It's here. And, social media didn't create the problems we face, it just exposes it and makes it more visible to more people.

Whereas we used to complain over the back fence to our neighbor or across the coffee table with our friends, now, people post complaints on social media and hundreds of their so-called "friends" see and repost their complaints.

We are all prone to brag or complain, especially when our mind, our heart is full of ourselves. But, we can learn and practice self-restraint, self-discipline and govern our thoughts. We can reject unkind, hateful, boastful thoughts thinking more highly of ourselves and disparagingly of others. We can replace those thoughts with humble thoughts about ourselves and generous thoughts of others.

It's not easy.

But, in a generation fixated on physical fitness, we should realize that anything worth doing requires effort. It isn't easy to make yourself get up and walk, run, work out. Exercise doesn't always feel good and sometimes results in pain. But, you persist for the results.

So, too, mental, emotional exercise is not easy, but definitely worth the effort. It will benefit both the one learning to govern his or her thoughts and therefore words as well as those who have been the recipients of those words and attitudes.

This season of Christmas, let's try to give the blessing of kindness to ourselves and to others and squelch the unkind words that spring to mind when tempted to complain or criticize.

•••

Editor's note: Annette Beard is the managing editor of The Times of Northeast Benton County, chosen the best small weekly newspaper in Arkansas for five years. The opinions expressed are those of the writer. She can be reached at abeard@nwadg.com.

Editorial on 12/05/2018

Print Headline: Are you bragging? or complaining?

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