How to Handle Criticism
Saturday, August, 29, 2015 | 5:30 AM | by Pastor Rick
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
True or false? Most of the challenges we deal with in life are people problems. Sometimes we cause them, sometimes others cause them, and often it’s a combination of the two.
Fact #1: If you could remove all that conflict from your life, everything would be much easier and simpler. No misunderstandings, no harsh demands, no hurt feelings, no fights or complaints or criticisms—nothing.
Fact #2: That’s never going to happen.
Jesus knew about people problems. So what can we learn from how He faced them?
As Jesus got ready to hit the road in his public ministry, He chose twelve men to go with Him. Do you remember that scene in Mark 3:13-19? “And He went up on the mountain and summoned those who He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. He appointed twelve . . . Simon, to whom he gave the name Peter; James, the son of Zebedee; John, the brother of James; and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot . . .”And then look who gets a verse all to himself— “Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him” (v. 19).
Don’t let the horror of that last verse slip by you. From studying the other gospels we know that Jesus spent an entire night in prayer before He chose His disciples. Yet here we see Him choosing someone who is going to betray Him. As Jesus navigated the maze of life, He made very deliberate choices. One of them was to look into Judas’ face and embrace him, knowing that he would betray Him. Why would He do that? Because He came to be our example. Because He wanted to help you and I deal with that kind of betrayal in our lives.
Do you know that kind of pain? Have people said or done hurtful things to you? Has somebody you loved and trusted done something horrific to you? Maybe you live with this banner of ugliness over your life, and wonder, “How do I have victory over that?” Jesus’ example can help answer that.
“When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, ‘He has lost His senses.’” (Mark 3:20-21)
His own people—the ones He had grown up with: His neighbors, His uncle, His best customer at the carpentry shop said He’s crazy. His family and friends showed up 30 miles from their home in order to take Him out of the public eye.
Do you think it was painful for Jesus to be so completely misunderstood that the people He thought loved Him would try to shut off His ministry? You better believe it was painful. “So how do you deal with something like that?”
Let’s first heed the flashing warning signal. The danger in betrayal is that you become discouraged. “I can’t take this anymore” and you start to pull back. “I’m not going to trust people anymore. I’m putting up walls so no one will ever do that to me again. I’ll just be a distant person. I might be lonely, but I won’t be hurt.” Well, I know what that’s like; Christ certainly knew all about that too.
“Is there any solution for that?” Yes—the issue is trust. When something unexpected and difficult comes into your life, get on your knees and say, “God, I don’t know why You’ve allowed this, but You’re a good and faithful God, and I trust You. I believe that nothing comes into my life but for Your good purposes. And God, I want to find the good in it, and I want to bring glory to You in this thing.” As quickly as you can, get to that place of humble submission and speak those powerful words, “God, I trust You.”
It was Charles Spurgeon who said, “It is not to be imagined that the God who has been so faithful to me in the last six trials I’ve gone through, will now abandon me here on the seventh.” God would never do that.
The key that unlocks the door of victory is, “God, I trust You.”
Jesus said it. He often withdrew from conflict in order to put the conflict in His Father’s hands. Peter testified that “When He [Jesus] 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). There was the place of trust. Because He was confident that the Father knew what He was doing, Jesus was able to continue on in victory.
All through the gospels after He was seriously attacked in His character and conduct, Jesus simply moved on. You can’t find one single time when He was attacked personally when He offered rebuttal. Not one. Instead, He absorbed the criticism. Jesus basically said, “Whatever,” and went back to work. He probably thought, “I didn’t come into this world to hold a popularity contest—I’m on a mission. I’ve got a calling from God on My life, and I’ve got to get to work.” It’s insightful.
Think of the energy we waste trying to convince others that we’re different than what they think we are. The lesson in Jesus’ example was don’t get discouraged; keep entrusting yourself to your heavenly Father. He knows all about it.
So is that it? Is that what we should do every time? I think the only time you cannot let something go unchallenged is when the attack is against truth. While it’s true that Christ never defended
Himself, He did defend His message. You can’t miss the fact that when Christ was intense, it was always on the bull’s eye of truth.
It needs to be the same for us. What people think of us is not important, but what they think of Christ and the gospel is eternally important, and it’s something for which we must take a stand.