Doesn’t it hurt to find out that others are criticizing you? I was pondering on this one night and decided to look in scripture at some of the many times where Jesus found Himself in the same place. Often, He saw His critics face to face while they were hurling their accusations.
He was accused of blasphemy. Mt. 9:3
He was accused of being possessed and of driving out demons by the prince of demons. Mt. 9:34, 12:24, Jn. 7:20, 8:52-53, Lu. 11:15, Mk. 3:22
He was criticized for working on the Sabbath. Mt. 12:1-2, Mk. 2:23-24, Lu. 6:2,6-7, 13:10-14, Jn. 5:16. I thought that it was interesting to note that in Luke 6:2,6-7 when Jesus was criticized by the Pharisees (leaders of the church), He went on to say in that same chapter to pray for your enemies and do good to them (v. 27-28). In verse 37 He says not to judge others or to condemn others. We will often have our own critics when we make the choice to put Christ first, spouse second, and children third. Even people in the church get their priorities wrong. Some tend to think that by putting church work first that they are putting Christ first. There are many who appear to be putting church above their families, and I have seen the chaos that has come into their lives because of these erroneous actions.
In Mt. 26:6-9, Mark 3:20-21, and Jn. 7:4-5, His own family criticized Him and said that He was “out of His mind.” Jesus went on to say that a prophet is without honor in his own town. (Mt. 13:54-57, Mk. 6:2-3) Many times, we will find that our those closest to us won’t understand how serious we are in our walk with the Lord. They will begin to criticize us. I have seen this in my own family, so I know how much it can hurt. Some of my family members say that I am brainwashing my daughter. That’s odd – God’s Word calls it “instructing her in righteousness.” While reading about how the people in Nazareth were furious with Jesus, driving Him out of town, and hoping to throw Him off a cliff, I saw that Jesus “walked right through the crowd and went on His way.” (Lu. 4:30) Father spoke to me and told me that as we walk His pathway, and we have critics who start talking so hatefully about us, He will enable us to also “walk right through the crowd” and go on our way.
In John 12:1-7 we find the story of Mary pouring expensive perfume and lavishing it upon the feet of Jesus. Judas was very critical of this action. Jesus said, “Leave her alone.” Imagine the Master telling Satan to leave you alone. After I miscarried my first baby, I had months where I didn’t read the Word because every time I did, I would start crying. I was tired of crying, and since the Word made me cry more, I quit reading. After I got through the most intense part of the grief, I was talking to the Lord. I asked Him why I didn’t go through any condemnation from Satan for not reading the Word. He assured me that He doesn’t put more on us than we can bear. I knew that He was telling me that when Satan wanted to heap condemnation upon me, Jesus told him, “Leave her alone!”
In Mk. 8:11 and Mk. 10:2, the Pharisees had come to test Jesus. Often, we will find that our own family members want to “test” us. They knew the person we were before Christ, and so they push and push, trying to provoke us. If they catch us in a weakened moment, and we fail to act in a Christian manner, we can count on hearing the words, “Oh! I thought you said that you were a Christian!”
In Mt. 8:34 we see that the people asked Jesus to leave their region after setting the demoniac free. When our lifestyles show a radical change because of our Lord’s work within us, we may be asked to leave as well. It may not be said to us in those words, but we may find ourselves missing out on invitations to do things. People whom we considered friends will suddenly stop calling. Family members may act distant with you at family get-togethers.
In Mt. 21:23, they asked Jesus by what authority He was doing different things. Many people will not understand why you homeschool, why you don’t work outside the home, why you don’t get your kids involved in lots of different activities, why you don’t let your children view certain programs, why YOU don’t view certain programs, and the list goes on….. They are questioning your authority on different issues. When facing our critics, we must always remember that we are to serve our Christ, looking only for HIS approval, and not the approval of man. (Gal. 1:10)
Jesus told us that if people persecuted Him, they are going to persecute us. (Jn. 15:20) In Mt. 5:11 He tells us that we are blessed when we are persecuted because of righteousness. We are told in II Tim. 3:12 that all who live godly lives will suffer persecution.
While it’s never easy to be persecuted or criticized, we are given some words of encouragement in scripture. I Pet. 4:14 tells us that if we are insulted because of Christ, we are blessed, for God’s Spirit rests on us! Heb. 12:1-3 tells us that we need to run with perseverance the race marked out for us. We need to fix our eyes on Jesus, and not grow weary and lose heart. Heb. 11:27 tells us that Moses persevered because he saw Him who is invisible. When we are persecuted by those closest to us because of our stand for the Lord, may we also “see Him who is invisible.” While facing those who may oppose us, may we sense His presence right there with us because He said that He would NEVER leave us, nor forsake us. (Heb. 13:5)
© 2003, Stacy R Miller