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  • Writer's picturePatty

Walking Without Being Derailed by Either Criticism or Praise

Read: John 12:42-43; Luke 4:14-30

Let's play "Who Said That?" Ready, here are two quotes.

1. “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”

2. “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

Give up? I wouldn't have known either answer if I hadn't read them on a list of quotes. The first quote came from basketball coach, John Wooden. The second was spoken by Winston Churchill. Both of these well-known men no doubt received their share of both criticism and praise. No one could ever lead a nation or coach a prominent team without dealing with both the barbs of harsh words and the praises of those who thought they could do no wrong.

The key is to rest in the middle. To receive criticism with the possibility that some truth might lie even in the midst of those overly harsh words. What about those glowing words of praise? We can benefit by remembering that we as humans don't shine as brightly as some people think. Here is one more quote from Coach Lou Holtz that can help us keep the opinions of others, whether good or bad, in perspective.

“You're never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you're never as bad as they say when you lose.”

In Luke 4, we are reminded that Jesus also dealt with the changing winds of men's opinions. Those who initially praised Him quickly turned against Him in no time at all.

In Luke 4:16-22, we watch as Jesus proclaimed in the synagogue, Who He was. He let those who heard Him know He was the Promised One, and He used the passage in Isaiah 61:1-3 as His proof text. So far so good. They were amazed at the gracious words He spoke. However, when the Master continued to speak about how God had poured out blessings on Gentiles, their praise turned to fury, Luke 4:23-30. It is an amazing transition to watch. The ones who were drinking in Jesus' words all of a sudden were trying to kill Him. Their praise was short lived. They actually drove Jesus out of the town and brought Him to the top of the hill. They wanted to throw Him off a cliff, Luke 4:29. Jesus' reaction? He went on to do His Father's work of healing and preaching. Not swayed by the opinions of the people. He neither needed their praises nor was He deterred by their rejection.

In John 12:42-43, Jesus explained why people often didn't put their trust in Him. It was because they preferred the accolades of men over the praises of God.Isn't that something every human being deals with? Especially those of us who have trusted in Jesus as Lord and Savior. That decision changed everything, didn't it? We used to belong to the world, and many of us thought nothing about our desire to fit in. We simply naturally kept in step like children playing follow the leader; however, when we were born again, John 3:3, we changed leaders. We exchanged the desire to please people for the desire to please God.

Oh yes, we still love people and desire God's best for them; however, if a decision comes down to either pleasing God or people, it is God's desire that we more and more choose what honors and brings glory to Him. That's a tall order, isn't it? Especially if our lives once looked very different than what God says is good and right. It is surely a process to first learn what actions bring honor to Jesus and then walk them out. That is sanctification. It is the outgrowth of becoming a new creation, 2 Corinthians 5:17 as surely as peaches are supposed to grow on the branches of peach trees.

Thankfully, God is at work in us to help us grow and change. He gives us the directions and the power to carry them out, and a part of this process is handling both criticism and praise. With His help, we aren't consumed either by the mocking words that people sometimes throw our way or the desire to fit in and receive their praise. Instead, we stay in the middle where God's love for us keeps us from being overly concerned with either of these things.

So, let's end with one way the Bible says we can please God. Hebrews 11:6 says that our faith pleases God. As we trust the Lord and obey His commands, we walk out our faith just as the people in Hebrews 11 did, and God is pleased.

Lord, no one likes criticism, and we would all like praise. Even so, help us to enjoy the praise and love You give us. Help us long for that more than the praise of man.

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