Thursday, March 01, 2007

Criticism

After yesterday's examination of self-acceptance, I wanted to find more of what the Bible has to say about self-image. And I found a perfect example in God's servant Paul. Specifically, 2 Corinthians, chapter 10. Here are verses 9-18:

9 I’m not trying to frighten you by my letters. 10 For some say, “Paul’s letters are demanding and forceful, but in person he is weak, and his speeches are worthless!” 11 Those people should realize that our actions when we arrive in person will be as forceful as what we say in our letters from far away.

12 Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!

13 We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us, which includes our working with you. 14 We are not reaching beyond these boundaries when we claim authority over you, as if we had never visited you. For we were the first to travel all the way to Corinth with the Good News of Christ.

15 Nor do we boast and claim credit for the work someone else has done. Instead, we hope that your faith will grow so that the boundaries of our work among you will be extended. 16 Then we will be able to go and preach the Good News in other places far beyond you, where no one else is working. Then there will be no question of our boasting about work done in someone else’s territory. 17 As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”

18 When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.

At the beginning of these verses, we see that Paul is learning about some gossip about himself. That had to have been so hard for him! He was following God's direction, doing what God told him, and here he was being gossiped about by some of the people he was ministering to. And look at what Paul's response was! He clearly had a healthy image of himself, and brushed aside what these men were saying of him. "Oh, don’t worry; we wouldn’t dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other". Paul realized that he was being evaluated by people who were concerned about themselves. He also realized that he had his own area of service, which God set for him, and that is what he needed to concentrate on.

Each one of us is placed in God's Kingdom and gifted for specific work by God. It is God who can critique us properly, and as long as we are doing what he has instructed us to do, it doesn't matter in the least what our fellow man may be saying about us. This can certainly be a hard lesson to learn, and while it may be hurtful to hear criticism from someone within our own church family, Paul shows us that it really doesn't matter. God is what matters. As long as we continue to teach the truth as Paul did, it should not deter us or veer us off course.

Part of this is learning to accept the gifts that we have and continuing to improve ourselves in those areas. Along with that, is learning to deal with the areas where we are less gifted. We need to accept that we don't excel at everything, and as long as we can accept those limitations, we are doing what we should be doing. Our gifts, calling, and our personal boundaries (what we can and cannot do) are set by God and God alone. As a believer we need to learn to be happy with God's boundaries and be glad to operate within them as such. This will help us to develop that spiritual healthy image that allows us to set aside what others may be saying about us. My favorite verses in this passage are the last two, and I think they are very fitting for closing up today's devotional.

" As the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”

18 When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them." 2 Corinthians 10:17,18

1 comment:

Claire said...

I love that you mentioned we should grow in our strength and understand that we do have weaknesses. I think that is one reason God talks so much about the body of Christ. Each person has certain gifts...all of which are needed to complete the tasks God has for us to do. I think weakness is one way that we are to work together. Ultimately, may all we do be for God and for His glory, not for others or ourselves.