Archive for November, 2011
Responding well to criticism can be hard to do. In fact, I’m pretty sure all of us have an initial knee-jerk reaction to criticism, especially when it is unjust, harsh, judgmental, or just plain mean-spirited. But how we respond is important. My default reaction to unfair or unjust criticism is to quickly jump to my own defense. But that’s not usually good advice and I don’t recommend it. I’d much rather respond like Jesus did, but on my best days, I’m inconsistent.
When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23)
Returning unjust criticism with kindness is what’s in view in Peter’s words as he wrote to a group of believers who were undergoing a lot more persecution than I’ve ever had to endure. Here’s a few things I try to remember when receiving unjust criticism:
- If you are unjustly criticized or judged by someone who isn’t in your life and doesn’t really know what makes you tick, take what they say to heart. As hard as it is to listen to or read something like that, there are probably grains of truth sprinkled in it. Take those to the Lord and ask him to change your heart in those areas. The Lord brought this critic into your life for a reason.
- Be humble and receive Read the rest of this entry »
Something I was reading the other day led me back to this passage in the early chapters of Genesis:
The LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6-7)
This passage comes on the heels of the well known story of the murder of Abel by his brother Cain and it depicts the ongoing tension, story, drama, and human predicament depicted for us in all the Bible. Sin has entered the world (in Genesis chapter 3) and it is always crouching at the door, waiting for the next opportunity to devour us. In order to be accepted by God, we must “do well” and somehow “rule over” or master sin’s power in our hearts. But we can’t. That’s the drama of Scripture. Sin has us in it’s Read the rest of this entry »
Suffering deepens and enriches our experience of grace in ways that can only happen by suffering. Oftentimes suffering is the tool that God uses to stir up a passion for Jesus and the gospel that has grown cold. I don’t need to suffer to understand and believe the gospel, but I’ve noticed a pattern in myself and in others close to me with similar experiences in their own gospel wakening, where suffering in some form is what God brought into our lives to gently awaken us to the sweet aroma of the gospel and a renewed passion for the beauty of Jesus. Sometimes he brings us back to our first love by the tough things we go through and the ugly things he lets us see in ourselves. But even then, he is gentle and compassionate. Look at this description of Jesus from Isaiah.
…a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. (Isaiah 42:3)
Sometimes God bruises us to give us eyes to see things and a heart to love things that had we not been bruised, we would never perceive and understand from the heart. Sometimes he bruises us to deepen our love for him and our compassion for others. Our bruising gentles us down and magnifies Jesus in us. But even in our bruising, he is kind, compassionate, and Read the rest of this entry »