How To Respond To Criticism
God calls us to not strike back or get revenge when people are against us. Live a committed life where you have let go of the situation for God to work. Let him take control. Follow Christ's Example.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again radio friends. How in the world are you?Doin’ all right today? Yes this is your friend Bob Cook, and I’m so glad to be back with you. My heart is full of praise to God and love for you. As I pray there, there comes that strange stirring in my heart, that just reaches out and, and, and touches those who are listening and fellowshipping by way of radio. And I want you to know that in these moments I’ve been praying God would say something special and precious to your own heart. Oh may that be so, by His grace.
You and I are looking at 1 Peter 2. And he said, “You were called hereunto were you called.” What is the ‘hereunto’ refer in 1 Peter 2:21? What does it refer to? It refers to the process of staying steady under pressure so that your life glorifies God. “If when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently. This is acceptable with God.” For hereunto, that kind of a thing, staying steady under pressure so you can glorify God, he said that’s what you were called to. Christ left us an example.
Now, what is the essence of his example? You find that in verse 22 and 23. “He did no sin.” That’s a holy life. We talked about that a day or so ago. “Neither was guile found in His mouth.” That’s the manipulative approach to living with people – trying to get your own way with guile. And then, “When He was reviled, He reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not.” No resistance, no striking back, no getting even, no taking revenge. All of these qualities of fallen human nature, our Lord Jesus was free of all that. And He left us an example. What’s the essence of the example? A holy life, a non-manipulative life, and a non-resistant kind of life – you don’t try to get back at people.
Small thought here: have you realized that you don’t have to answer every criticism, that you don’t have to get even with people? I saw a bumper sticker just the other day, on someone’s car, as, as he passed me. And it said, ‘Don’t Get Mad, Get Even’. Well, what is the philosophy behind that? It says, ‘If you hit me, I’m gonna hit you. You take something away from me, I’ll take something away from you’. Get even.
No, this isn’t God’s way. Let God handle the situation. You don’t have to strike back. You don’t even have to answer every complaint, or every, every critical letter that you may receive. Some of us who are in Christian work now and then receive letters that, that tell us exactly how bad we are, you know. (Laughs) Well that’s all right. Not everybody knows I’m as nice as I really am, I say, I tell people.
But you don’t have to answer every criticism, you don’t have to let it hurt you even; because God can handle it. Turn it over to Him and let Him handle it. “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, said the Lord,” the Bible says. So, turn it over to God. You don’t have to strike back, you don’t have to get even. No. As a matter of fact, it takes two to have a shoving match. And if you stop shoving, the other person of necessity also has to stop pushing – have you thought about that?
You’d be surprised how many things you don’t need to argue about, you know. The other person says, “Well, so-and-so and so-and-so.” Just look at him, smile and say, “Well, that’s all right. Okay. Oh what’s…” There isn’t any answer to that, you can’t argue about somebody who’s agreeing with you. (Laughs) Except when somebody’s trying to pick a quarrel – this has happened once or twice in my life – and I agreed with the person, they said angrily, “Oh you just agreed with me.” They didn’t like that either. (Laughs)
Well… No, you don’t have to get even, you don’t have to talk back, you don’t have to strike back, you don’t have to try to manipulate the situation. God is the great manager of your life, and of the lives of people around you. The world talks about good luck. We know it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. So the example, what is it? A holy life, a non-manipulative life, and a non-threatening or striking back kind of a life. But what’s the next one? A committed life. “He committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” Commitment is simply letting go of the situation, and letting God handle it.
When I first learnt to ride a bicycle, my father bought a second-hand bicycle that was a heavy old thing. I think it was second cousin to a Sherman tank. Oh it heavy. But I was delighted. It was, it had two wheels, and, and pedals, and a chain, and a sprocket, and handlebars, and it was a bicycle. And I was, I would suppose about what? 12 years old, something like that. Maybe 11… And I had never ridden a bike before because we never had one. My father had one, but he used it to go to work.
And now I was living with him in Cleveland, Ohio. And so there was this bicycle. Well, I, I started by running alongside of it, and then stepping up on the pedal on one side, and coasting – I learned somehow to balance it a little bit that way. Then the next thing I did in trying to learn to ride it myself was I would put one foot through the frame of the bicycle, and the other foot on the pedal on my near side. And then I would pedal it that way. I was small enough to reach through the frame and, and, and, and make the bike go. Why I never killed myself with it I don’t know. But that’s what I did, can you imagine that?
So one day my father said, “Now listen boy, I’m going to show you how to ride the bike the right way.” Oh fun. So he took me out on Prospect Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio, which even then was a major thoroughfare. And he said, “Now get up on the bike.” And I got up on it. And he said, “Now don’t you do anything. You just keep your hands on the handlebars and, and, and I’ll show you how to ride the bike. And so there we were, two people beside each other: he on his bicycle, I on mine; his ironfisted grip on the handlebar of my bicycle, and we began.
He said, “Now pedal, push on the pedal.” So we started. Prospect Avenue, the cars whizzing by. He said, “Don’t try to do anything, you just, you just keep your hands on the, on the handlebars, but don’t try to do anything.” And so we went one block, two blocks, three blocks. And pretty soon I got as we say, the feel of it. And I began to see how this works, that you turn the wheel toward the direction where the bike is starting to lean over. You always turn toward the direction in which you seem to be falling.
And that’s how you balance a two wheel vehicle. And I, I, I began to see how it felt. And pretty soon he, he, he saw that and, and he lifted his hand momentarily, and I was riding the bicycle myself. Oh that was tremendous! How did it start? Letting him manage it. His hand on mine. Would you let the nail-pierced hand close over yours today? Would you… That’s what commitment really means. His hand on you, to guide, to control, to keep things in balance, to keep you from running into, into things and having accidents in life. His hand on you – that’s what commitment means. And that’s the example that our Lord Jesus Christ left for us. Leave us an, an example. He committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.
Just recently I ran across a story across the travesty of justice that happened in our own American courts. Everything seemed to be done wrong, and the ruling of the judge was something you could scarcely believe, given the evidence. Everything seemed to be completely unjust. Whatever the true facts of the matter may have been, that’s, that was the impression that one got in, in hearing the story. But you know, the Bible says, “Him that judgeth righteously…” Abraham said, “Shall not the judge of all the Earth do right?” God does the right thing for me when I let Him handle the situation.
Now then we come to verse 24. This precious verse is the verse that I had printed on, on the picture that was taken when I was graduating from, from Moody Bible Institute. “Who His own self bore our sins, in His own body on the tree, that we being dead to sins should live unto righteousness by whose stripes ye were healed.” Christ. Now think about this. Time’ll run out before we get through with it but let’s, let’s start anyway. First of all the Lord Jesus personally took an interest in your needs and mine. Who His own self bear our sins. The only person in all the universe that could settle the sin question and pay the penalty for sin took a personal interest in you and in me.
How nice it is when someone in authority takes a personal interest in you, isn’t it? I owe a number of ‘thank you’s’ to people through the years, who have gone out of their way to be personally interested in me and in what I was trying to do. And they’re encouraged me, they’ve taken time with me. And they have helped to steer my course as I tried to accomplish some things. A personal interest.
Just let me detour here long enough to, to remind all of us that it is immensely important to show a personal interest in the other people around you. Not just a, a casual ‘how are you’, but if there seems to see a pro-, seems to be a problem with them, take time to find out where the individual is hurting and what you can do about it. If somebody is sick, personally either call up or go see them. If there’s been a sorrow in the home, personally drop a, a, a sympathy card or a, a visit, or a telephone call.
A personal interest in people is so very, very important. You’ll do that, won’t you? Don’t make a federal case of it and, and be officious about it – you don’t have to do that. Just, just a phone call, just a visit, just a, a, even a, a card or a letter that says ‘I’m thinking about you and praying for you’ means so very much. A very personal interest. “Who His own self…” He didn’t send an angel or a legion of them – they couldn’t do it anyway.
‘Holy, holy’ is what the angels sing. ‘And I expect to help them make the courts of heaven ring. But when we sing redemption’s story, they will fold their wings; for angels never knew the joy that our salvation brings’. They, they, they just simply can’t have any share in that because they don’t know; well they couldn’t save us, and they can’t know how wonderful it is to be saved. “Which things the angels desire to look into,” the Bible says.
So as we come to the end of these few moments, let me just linger on this thought: Jesus takes a personal interest in you. “He calleth His own sheep by name.” Jesus knows your name, He knows all about you today. And you’re safe in His care. Would you therefore by faith, commit your life again in faith to Him, and let Him manage things? His hand on yours, as you go through life.
Blessed Father today, oh may we have the good sense and the grace to let you guide and control. Your hand on ours, let it be so. For Jesus sake. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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