Expect criticism

Expect most of it to come from within the church, either your church, the local church or both. I’ve had loads of criticism for events done. It’s great, it usually means someone’s getting upset and God is working! Jesus said this in Matthew 11.34-35 – ‘Don’t think I’m came to bring peace to the earth! I came to bring trouble, not peace’ (CEV). If you’re doing God’s business you WILL stir up other people against you. Non-Christians may misjudge you, Christians will also condemn you for a variety of reasons. I can talk – I’ve criticised and had wrong motives in my life. I have had to repent and ask for forgiveness.

The criticism you face will come in 2 ways. It will be constructive – ‘I loved the event (or whatever) but maybe it could do with being 1 hour instead of 90 minutes.’ We must always be ready to hear criticism. People can see things that we do which we cannot see. A Godly Christian friend will humbly (and with the right motives) point out things to you. However, you will, without doubt, face destructive and negative criticism. How will you respond?

One time when people unfairly criticised me, God led me to Numbers 12 where Miriam and Aaron were criticising Moses. God dealt with them very firmly. Other times, God will put you through trials and suffering to build your character, perseverance and to test your heart and attitude. Let God have his way. Be humble before God. Let other people have their say. Speaking to my pastor he showed me something God once showed to him. It’s found in 2 Samuel 9 and 10. In both chapters King David offers kindness to 2 different people with 2 very different responses. This is how it will be in Christian ministry – just look at what happened to Jesus!

So what should our attitude be?

It should be like Jesus, ‘who although he was God didn’t try to be equal with God but gave up everything and became a servant when he became human like us. He was humble to the extent that he willingly obeyed God and died on a cross..’

Our attitude should be like Paul. In Philippians 1.15-18 Paul discovered some people were preaching the Gospel with false motives. They didn’t like Paul and his methods (there’s nothing new under the sun!). How did Paul respond? Did he criticise these unrighteous little termites and call down the power of God on them?? Nope. He thanked God because the Gospel was being preached. He humbled himself. Even though he may not have liked what they were doing or agree with their false motives, he stood back and said, ‘hey the Word of God’s Kingdom is going out and people are gonna get saved. Who cares if it’s not my style!’ Discernment is called for but God’s Kingdom is bigger than us or our preferred styles. I’d rather be on God’s side and be humbled than be proud and oppose him!

Has God called you to do something?

If so, do it, no matter how strange you or others think it is. Noah was told to build an ark in the middle of a massive bit of land, Elijah was told to go and live in a ravine and be fed by ravens, Ezekiel was told to lie on his left side for 390 days! If God has spoken then do it – and keep going! When I was criticised and my motives questioned, I wanted to defend what I had done. God stopped me and said I had nothing to defend. All God asks of us is to listen to him and obey him and his Word, as I had. God fights our battles not us. God is building his Kingdom (1 Cor 3.4-9), not us. God guides, loves and disciplines us, his little children.

So why right this little personal sermon? Well, learn from what happened to me and be prepared. You may know the story of CT Studd who was called to be a missionary in Africa – God called him but the church didn’t support him. Other missionaries have faced the same. Has God called you? Yes (Matthew 28.19). Will we have troubles? Yes (Matthew 10.16-25). Do we need to fear man? No (Matthew 10.26-31). Do we need to fear God? Yes (Job 28.28, ‘the fear of the Lord – that is wisdom’).

Learn from this. Get right with God. Make sure you have and continue to hear what he has to say. Make sure you think twice before criticising and judging others. As you have judged, so will you be judged.. (Matthew 7.1-6)

Sometimes God will use criticism to move us on and forward, or out of one area into another. In a sense it may force our hand. Maybe God is allowing this to build you, to harden and strengthen you, to help you re-inforce God’s call on your life. In life we can allow things to affect us positively or negatively. God may be preparing you for your future, or your present. Is this a word to you?