Words have an effect on our lives and the lives of those around us. How should we use our words and how should we respond when someone criticizes us?
2 Kings 15 & 16
2 Kings 15 & 16:
Responding to criticism
Chapter 15 summarizes the reigns of Azariah, also called Uzziah, and his son Jothan. The Scripture says they did what was right in the sight of the Lord in many ways, although both tolerated the idolatrous practices of the people.
But then … verse 5? “Then the LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper until the day of his death …” What happened?
The parallel passage in 2 Chronicles gives us some insight. After serving the Lord well and seeing God prosper his efforts, Uzziah (Azariah) got puffed up with pride and tried to usurp the priestly role by going into the temple to burn incense on the altar of incense, something only the priest was to do. But even then, God didn’t strike him with leprosy until he refused to listen to the High Priest when he rebuked him (2 Chron. 26.16-23).
This is a great reminder to us to heed God’s Word and listen to wise counsel. And when we are rebuked, corrected, or criticized, we need to consider it carefully and prayerfully. Ask the Lord if there is even a nugget of truth in what is being said.
A great little booklet about how to receive criticism is called Words That Cut. It’s available through Peacemaker Ministries. If you’re not familiar with their ministry and materials, you might want to check out their website.
God our strength and portion forever
After all his complaining the psalmist turns his attention to God. Verses 21-26:
21 Thus my heart was grieved,
And I was vexed in my mind.
22 I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
23 Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
24 You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
26 My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
The psalmist was convicted over his own sinful attitude (vv. 21-24), but also aware of God’s grace, “Nevertheless I am continually with You …”
The harvest of our words
Verse 20, “A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; from the produce of his lips he shall be filled.” Our speech should be producing a harvest of blessings. If we seek to speak as Paul instructed in Ephesians 4.29—words that are edifying, timely and graceful—it will. But if we gossip, criticize and spew out evil, that speech, too, will create a harvest.
In verses 15-22 Jesus lovingly restored Peter after his denial of Him during the events leading up to the crucifixion. But He did so, by bringing him to the place of total commitment and surrender to His will, in spite of the revelation that he would die a martyr’s death.
Peter finally came to understand that Jesus already knew his heart, but loved and commissioned him just the same. What a great encouragement to the rest of us “imperfect” saints!
What about you? Questions to ponder or journal:
What kind of harvest are your words producing? Do you need to seek forgiveness from anyone in this area? How do you need to change how you’re speaking and addressing problems?
What encouragement can you take from Jesus’ restoration of Peter?
For further thought & study:
Matthew 5.9 says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
God desires for His people to be peacemakers, but peace is sometimes in short supply in our families, in our work places, and even, in our churches.
Peacemaker Ministries puts out some great material on conflict resolution and peacemaking principles.
The Young Peace Maker by Corlette Sande is great homeschooling, parenting, or Sunday school material for teaching students how to resolve conflict. Resolving Everyday Conflict is a great practical guide for all kinds of everyday conflicts. Peacemaking Women focuses on how to have godly friendships and how to work through issues when they arise.
|Young Peacemaker KitBy Corlette Sande / Shepherd PressHelp your children or students understand and respond to conflict in a Biblicalmanner with this collection of short and sassy comic books. Each ten page printable-bookis filled with illustrated stories that teach kids howto be better peacemakers among their friends, families and authorities. Each book focuses on a specific problem (that kids are likely to face in their own lives) and presents biblical principles of confession, forgiveness, communication and character development. Lessonsconclude with “what would you do” activities and application questions.The Young Peacemaker Set includes a 200 page Teacher Manual designed in aworkbook format with appendices thatcan be photocopied for child or student use. Divided into three sections: Understanding, Responding and Preventing Conflict, each lesson has a goal,objectives, principle, and needs clearly outlined at the beginning, andis followed by teacher’s notes on setting the stage and questions to ask. Reproducible student activity sheets for all twelve lessonsare provided on an enclosed CD for ease of duplication. Help illustrate the conflicts and talk about possible solutions–good and bad–and what’s wrong with the “bad” solutions. A lesson summary reaffirms the lesson’s main points.Teacher book is 199 pages,softcover.1 CD-ROM has the Student Activity Books in PDF format. Recommended for grades 3-7, but can be adapted for younger or older students.
Student/Teacher book is 199 pages, softcover.
|Peacemaking Women: Biblical Hope for Resolving ConflictBy Tara Klena Barthel & Judy Dabler / BakerYour friends add a lot to your life—but what do you do when things go wrong? In Peacemaking Women, Tara Barthel and Judy Dabler show you how to avoid gossip, bitterness, and spiteful actions as you look for resolutions that demonstrate Christ to believers and unbelievers alike. Filled with biblical guidance and practical advice for resolving conflicts and finding life-changing reconciliation! 352 pages, softcover, Baker.|
|Resolving Everyday ConflictBy Ken Sande & Kevin Johnson / Baker BooksJesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” But how can we restore harmony to our broken relationships? In this concise, practical guide, Sande and Johnson explore the nature of conflict and offer biblically based steps to heal everyday disputes. Discover how to see the situation clearly, overcome evil with good, be reconciled to your “enemy,” and more. 112 pages, softcover from Baker.|
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