Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. (Proverbs 9:8-9 ESV)
Taking criticism can be difficult. Nobody likes to be told that what they are doing is wrong, especially when they think they are right. However, a wise person takes criticism graciously. A wise person understands that they do not know everything.
If you’re acquainted with someone who believes they know everything, chances are they aren’t truly as wise as they perceive themselves to be. When someone approaches a wise person and shows them their faults or areas in which they can improve, they graciously listen and change accordingly; the text even says they will love the person for it. We must learn to look at criticism as a loving way of others helping us to be more like Jesus. Obviously, there are times when those who are criticizing are not doing it in a spirit of love. But, the majority of times it is for our good.
Take a hard look at your life. How do you handle criticism? Do you have a hard time because you think you know best? Are there relationships that have been broken because of the way you have taken criticism?
Remember Proverbs 9:8-9 as others show you areas you need to work on.
“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ (Matthew 25:14-21, ESV)
In this parable Jesus describes how a wealthy master entrusted to three of His servants a significant amount of his property. A talent was worth approximately twenty years wages for a common laborer (so these were serious amounts of money). Although each servant was given a different amount, they were given the same task: invest the treasure they’d been entrusted.
We can often become overwhelmed with the idea of joining God in His kingdom activity. We see overwhelming issues around the world and in our own communities. We can also compare ourselves to others who appear to be accomplishing big tasks for God. Unfortunately, we can often miss the significant opportunities He already entrusts to us every day. Sometimes we need to take a step back and see what God has already entrusted to us…
Take a few minutes to ask God to open your eyes to relationships, opportunities, and abilities which you may not recognize.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
I wish my testimony was one of unwavering faith and steadiness. I wish that you could go and talk to anyone I went to high school with and they would tell you about my commitment to the Gospel and my obvious love for Jesus. Now, some people would, because I do love Jesus and am committed to the Gospel. But others wouldn’t because they’ve seen me fall to sin and act pridefully. In fact, I’d wager that many of us are this way. We wish that we could have another chance at past situations or seasons. These were my thoughts prior to writing this. Pretty grim way to spend an morning, right?
But here was God’s answer to my angst and self-disappointment: “I’m not done with you yet.” He brought Paul’s words to light in my dark regret. I’m not finished, he’s still making me! I’m still being molded and shaped and conformed to Jesus’ likeness (Romans 8:29). And here’s more good news– so are you. God’s not done with us, we are still being drawn and invited into relationship with him. Jesus served us first, and from that place of being served by him, we can serve him and his Church. What God did for me was turn my focus from myself and toward Jesus. This may seem simple, but it is a monumental gift of change and transformation.
This past week Amie and I went through a personal fire, where at the time we didn't know the seriousness of what we were getting ready to go through. But God had His hand on Amie(us) the whole time. God reminded us that God's not done with Amie. He is still working on her and through her. The key for us is to keep our eyes on him through the fire, knowing that our weakness is made strong...WITH CHRIST JESUS!
"So many times I've questioned certain circumstances
Things I could not understand
Many times in trials, weakness blurs my vision
Then my frustration gets so out of hand
But it's then I am reminded I've never been forsaken
I've never had to stand the test alone,
But when I look at all the victories
I'm reminded of all that God has done for me
Through the fire my weakness is made strong
He never promised that the cross would not get heavy
and the hill would not be hard to climb
He never offered our victories without fighting
But He said help would always come in time
Just remember when you're standing in the valley of decision
And the adversary says give in
Just hold on, our Lord will show up
And He will take you through the fire again"
When our hearts are focused on Jesus we see his servanthood and selflessness, we see his love for the Church (Ephesians 5:25), we see the image to which we’re being conformed. This changes us because we join Jesus in his mission and work on the earth. This is the context in which this molding, shaping and transforming takes place. No matter where we’ve fallen or cracked, our Maker has a grand design and intention for us that is not yet complete. Rest in hope and turn your focus upward and outward. Let the Father change your narrow scope from simply today, to that of eternity.
Lead Pastor @Genesee Road Church of God.