How did Jesus handle criticism?


Jesus knew all about criticism.

The Bible tells us of a constant sniping that went on. His words were taken out of context, and his actions misrepresented and misunderstood;  but how did he respond?

In 1 Peter 2:23 NKJV there’s an indication of his reaction.
“…who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously…”

My online dictionary explains “revile” as “To criticize in an abusive or angrily insulting manner.” Ever been on the receiving end of stuff like that?  How did you feel?  Matthew 5:11 says “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake”!   Blessed! Well,  Jesus certainly lived out his own teaching. When criticized by others, he never criticized in return nor did he get angry or discouraged because of what the Pharisees, scribes or unbelievers said about him.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to “give as good as you get” when someone has a go.Every fibre of your flesh seems to rise up and insist on the right to reply. But, as Dale Carnegie put it: “Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

So how did Jesus do it?  He used the power of something stronger than the desire to criticize back. Jesus instead focused on God and on the mission that the Father had given him.

Negative criticism only serves the purpose of distracting you from God’s purpose for your life. You have to accept the fact that you can’t please everyone, so you might as well please God only. In the midst of the criticism, like Jesus, you must focus all your attention on God and trust that God will judge righteously. It’s his call. Leave it to him to sort it all out.

There’s a moment in the life of Nehemiah when an enemy requests a peace conference. It all sounds very plausible and reasonable, but Nehemiah turns him down flat. He says, in effect: “The work I am doing requires all my attention. I simply don’t have time to talk on your terms about all this stuff.”

Do you see what he’s doing? He’s using that same power of identifying the positive to defeat the negative. What has God called me to do? (Build this wall). What does this man want? (Really, he just wants to waste my time.) OK then.

There’s another moment in the life of Jesus where you see this quite clearly:
“And He marveled because of their unbelief. Then He went about the villages in a circuit, teaching.”  (Mark 6:6 )

Sometimes the closest people in your life can criticize you negatively. Someone said to me, by way of a joke, “You have to be really close to someone to stab them in the back.” But it’s not really very funny, is it?

When Jesus went to His own hometown among the people He grew up with, they did not receive his teachings. The people criticized Jesus and the scripture says that they were “offended” (read Mark 6:1-6).

However, Jesus did not stay and argue with His criticizers. He did not keep a grudge or become angry with them. Instead Jesus carried on teaching from village to village, because his focus was on pleasing God and not men.

Today. Don’t focus on those who are criticizing you. Don’t hold a grudge or hate those who criticize you. Instead determine to achieve what God has set before you and let God handle the “haters”.

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