A Necessity is Reproof
by David Brenneman
I, like probably most of you, aren't the greatest at receiving criticism.
When it's daily, it is much like being hit physically.
What Dr. Charles Stanley said in this point is, at least to me, the part or portion that I have been missing. Asking God if there's any truth to what's been said.
We, more than we might think, take what people say at face value.
We hear it or see it and we just take it in and believe it. But what does God say about it?
In the book of John it's written that Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, and the life.
Just because people make statements to us about us, doesn't make them a truth sayer. You and I are hearing their singular perception which can be influenced by so many variables. Not the least of which is a sin nature tainting their views on life.
While reproof is necessary, so are a few others, but lets put it in context.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."
The Merriam Webster dictionary says: reproof is a criticism for a fault.
If we indeed are to receive a criticism it should indeed be filtered through the Word of God.
Every single person who lives in our world has sin impairing their judgment. Everyone. No exceptions. Only the Word of God, only the Spirit of God, can impart truth. It's never going to be my opinion or your opinion or anyone's opinion that matters in light of eternity.
We read such things in the Bible of Jesus separating the believers from the unbelieving in preparation for judgment. Ever really realize that there's going to be screaming people in denial of Him separating them from friends and family?
Jesus is truth and He is going to stand on it to judge mankind. He knows the hearts of mankind because He is God. Now when He is critical of someone it's an absolutely true statement that He imparts.
Asking Jesus if there's any truth in what someone says ought to be our first response.
A singular criticism stands out to me from this past week. Even before reading that piece from Dr. Charles Stanley that I've quoted, I had checked with Jesus about it.
His response was that I and the person who said what was said to me are in two different stages of work in Him. This other person isn't to where I am. Give them grace. So I did and moved on.
I could have easily gone on the defensive. I could have easily shredded their argument. But it's not about me. We who are in Christ are part of the great commission. To make disciples, teaching others to obey all that Jesus commanded.
In due time God will deal with people in His way and through His work. Our finite minds do not know every outcome from the situations we find ourselves in. God does. We do not know if our criticism we return will really lift up someone or do harm when it's in our own understanding of things and we haven't consulted Jesus.
Prayer doesn't necessarily mean stopping what we're doing, bowing our heads, folding our hands and praying either out loud or to ourselves. Nehemiah was in the middle of talking to the King and just quickly prayed for help.
We can do the same.
We should do the same.
We often run to safe places to get away from critical people. King David had someone critical of him, nagging him, following him. One of his soldiers wanted to kill the guy to shut him up for what he was saying about the King. David told him to leave him alone. David knew something that the soldier didn't.
When we ask for wisdom, the Bible says that God freely gives us wisdom. We need to seek His wisdom. It's His kingdom come and His will to be done in our lives.
Running away doesn't always mean failure.
Sometimes it's necessary for integrity.
Sometimes we do need to press on because that's the will of God for us.
Knowing the difference still requires prayer. We need to be listening to God's leading and not just hearing what we want to hear.
We are told to pray without ceasing. Akin to circular breathing. Constant and unbroken.
I prayed for the individual who said what they did. I pray for myself at our next encounter. Jacob had prayed about his next encounter with Esau...the result was God changed them both.
Expect the Spirit to do a work in your life when you correctly pray about criticism.
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