Monday, May 27, 2019

Take the Criticism - Martin Wiles

Series: The Road to Humility

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth. Isaiah 53:7 KJV

“You just brought her out here because you don’t like her.”

I listened as the grandmother hurled angry insults at my wife. My wife substituted for the teacher of the Wednesday night girls’ group. The teacher had asked her to teach at the last minute, but she had no time to prepare or literature to prepare with. She did what seemed logical: brought the one girl into the adult prayer service.

Grandma didn’t think her actions were logical. When she got her chance, she accused my wife of not liking the little girl. Not teaching her and bringing her into the prayer service proved it.

My wife burst into tears, but no one bothered to comfort her. I couldn’t comfort her either since I was leading the prayer service. I wish I could say the mother and grandmother later apologized for their outburst and unfair criticism, but they didn’t. I also wish I could say this was the only time someone in my family or me were the recipients of unfair criticism—but it isn’t.

Jesus knew about criticism. The accusations against Him were unfair and untrue. Jealously led the religious leaders to hurl their poisonous darts against Him—and to lead the people to do the same. Even as He hung on the cross dying, the insults and condemnation continued. Instead of hurling them back, He asked the Father to forgive them.

Reproach isn’t easy to take. Revenge—or criticizing back—is our natural reaction. Keeping our mouth shut takes practice, humility, and a lot of help from God.

I don’t like criticism any more than the next person, but I’ve learned there’s often a grain of truth even in unjust criticism. Looking for it, and learning from it, promotes humility and helps me hone my interpersonal relationships. The simple lesson from the grandmother’s accusations was to make sure extra teacher books were in the classroom in case the teacher was absent.

Unjust blame also helps me help people since hurt people normally hurt people. Often the criticism is really about something else, not the issue that surfaces.

Whether the criticism is fair or unfair, not passing it along is wise. Better to pass along forgiveness and encouragement.

When others criticize you, ask God to teach you a lesson from it.

Prayer: Father, when we are reviled by others, help us to respond as Jesus did.

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