Who has the right to complain? One of the students in the recovery program at the Mission where I work made this comment, only slightly refined by me: “The only person with a right to complain about how they are being treated is the one who is treating everyone else perfectly.”
The context for this discussion was the perennial poor treatment of the students, who run the program, by the “friends and neighbors,” our word for the homeless who stay at the shelter or eat the meals. You wouldn’t believe how bad the attitude of some of them can be. I once talked with a fellow who was railing that “this can’t be a Christian operation” because somebody at dinner the previous night (probably him) had been refused a second soft drink…
I said “We have a one soft drink limit.” He said (I’m not kidding): “Jesus would have given that person a second soft drink.” I said “No way! Jesus probably wouldn’t have even given that person the first soft drink, because it’s not good for you.” We went round and round. Anyway you get the idea: The entitlement mindset has set in.
From a gospel standpoint, however, all of us actually deserve a darn good whacking. My sins are legion and they are screaming out (in a sense) for me to be treated badly by everyone I meet. My sins caused the Son of God to die a brutal and terribly painful death. Instead of being humbled by this and grateful that God is not asking everyone on earth to kick me to the curb, I’m incensed if I’m not treated like royalty! How crazy is that?
In reality I have no right to complain if I’m slighted or ignored, mistreated or disrespected, because I have no honor of my own: I only stand by the grace of a God who wants to forgive my sins and love me anyway.
Mother Teresa once quipped: “Why be so concerned what people are thinking about you? Suppose they knew the truth?” The truth is that even if my cup looks pretty polite and clean outwardly, would I really want my innermost thoughts playing on a big screen above my head? NO WAY!
Hence, our conclusion that the only one who has a right to complain about the way he or she is being treated is the one who is already treating everyone else perfectly! But the funny thing is, I have met that Person, and He has yet to utter any complaints in my hearing...