Criticism, anger, sarcasm: 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
Words, Criticism & Imperfect Saints
Responding Well 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 …”
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 rebuked (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. Even when it seems unfair, we should ask the Lord if there is even a nugget of truth in what was 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.
Today’s Other Readings:
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. 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 kind of harvest are your words producing? Do you need to seek forgiveness from anyone in this area? Do you need to change the way you speak and address problems?
What encouragement can you take from Jesus’ restoration of Peter?
I hope you’ll share your thoughts in the comments section below.
For further thought & study:
God desires for His people to be peacemakers (Matt. 5.9), but peace is sometimes in short supply in our families, in our work places, and even, in our churches.
They put out some great material on conflict resolution and peacemaking principles. I listed several resources yesterday. One that I did not mention is The Young Peacemaker by Corlette Sande. It is a great homeschooling, parenting, or Sunday school resource for teaching students how to resolve conflict. I have used it one on one with young people in counseling and recommended it to parents to work through with their own children. It would make a great summer Bible study for families. Parents will benefit from the Biblical principles, too.
The Young Peacemaker by Corlette Sande
Help your children or students understand and respond to conflict in a Biblical manner with this twelve lesson curriculum on peacemaking. Each lesson is filled with illustrated stories that teach kids how to be better peacemakers among their friends, families and authorities. Each lesson 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. Lessons conclude with “what would you do”; activities and application questions.
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