Thought for the Week 10/05/21
“Critiquing your Critics”
“By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you.” 2 Corinthians 10:1
An account of the life of the Apostle Paul reads like an action adventure. A persecutor of the early church, Saul (his original name) was transformed after a blinding and direct encounter with Jesus. Paul (his new name) went on to become the greatest church planter there has ever been. His letters continue to form the foundations for our doctrines of faith and contemporary church practice.
Along the way Paul faced all sorts of adventures. A brief excerpt from his letter to the church in Corinth could have be written by someone like Bear Grylls!
“I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from the Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea.” 1 Corinthians 11:26
It is interesting that Paul includes the Jews and Gentiles as among those dangers he faced. People he knew as well as those he did not. The criticism of others can threaten us as much as any other danger.
How do we deal with our critics?
At work we may face appraisals or reviews.
At home we may have family members who can undermine what we do.
Wherever we go. Whatever we do there will be a critic lurking. Rather than avoid them, we need to face up to our critics.
Let’s critique our critics.
It helps to identify what type of critic we are facing.
Is this critic in the building business or the demolition game?
Rob Parsons writes: Our critics are either builders or destroyers. Those who are builders have a single aim: they want to see us grow – to get better at what we do.
Our best critics want the best from us. It may not be easy to hear – but listen we must if we genuinely want to be the best God has created us to be.
Then there are those who simply want to knock us down. Whether it’s from jealously or from issues of their own their words act like giant sledgehammers. We must, in love, gently put their words down. We are far from perfect. The Church of Jesus Christ is far from perfect. We know this isn’t heaven. It doesn’t take a wrecking ball to show us our faults.
Not every critic is an outsider. Some of the toughest words we’ll ever hear about ourselves actually come from ourselves.
Criticism, especially if done badly, leaves us feeling that we are somehow worthless. That we have much to prove.
Following Jesus allows us to see things differently. Paul writes: So, from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. (2 Corinthians 5:16)
God loves us and wants to transform us. Criticism causes us to look back on where we have been. We remain locked in that place of failure.
God wants us to look forward to who we can become.
“…if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Who might we encourage and build up today?