We all know what it is like to be critical. Criticism in and of itself is not a bad thing. There is a cautious constrictive criticism and there is a careless censorious criticism. Cautioned criticism is regulated by the desire to be helpful, whereas censorious criticism is regulated by the desire to be destructive. The story of a young lawyer has been told:
“A lawyer was speaking to another lawyer and asking him how should he handle cases in court. The older lawyer said, ‘Well, if the law is on your side, emphasize the law. If the evidence and the facts are on your side, emphasize the evidence and the facts.’ ‘But what if neither are on my side?’ ‘Then attack other lawyer.'”
Criticism becomes bad when it is driven by an ungodly motive and carried out in an ungodly way. This ugly form of criticism begins with a critical heart, which then manifests itself in verbal attack. This verbal attack tends to start off by complaining and then follows with abusing. If this level of criticism is unbridled, it can end with physical abuse like fighting. The issue goes back to the heart and why the person is critical to begin with. Jesus said,
In , the religious leaders criticized the Lord Jesus three times (8:48, 52-53, 57). This is not the first time that this has happened. But on this occasion the comments were getting more personal and ended quite intensely. What was the cause of such anger? The cause of this criticism was the previous conversation that had just taken place. Jesus had made it clear that because they are of their father the devil (cf. ), they are not in tune with God’s desires and nor do they know Him. This sparked a series of criticisms that climax with an attempt to take Jesus’ life (). This is really serious! The most amazing thing in this this passage is the way Jesus responds to such ungodly and uncalled for behaviour. The apostle Peter got to spend three years watching and walking with Jesus. Looking back on His perfect life Peter said concerning Jesus,
That is a powerful description of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we will see an example of that in our passage. We need to also understand, that though this is what happened to our Lord, if you identify with Him, those things that are directed toward Christ will in varying forms come towards His people ().
How can we deal with criticism in a way that honours God? We will consider this in our next post.
45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
48 The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” 52 The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
23 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.
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,