40 Days of Prayer – Spiritual Warfare – Right Response – Part 4
When we are engaged in spiritual battles, having the right focus – right heart – right perspective – and right responses are essential tools in victorious kingdom living!
Dealing With Criticism
God often uses the worst that men can say about us to shape our character, strengthen us, and make us like Him. An incident in the Old Testament illustrates the reality of this truth: The story of Shimei, the mean-spirited little man who hurled rocks and insults at King David, as David fled from his son Absalom. (2 Samuel 16:5-14).
Criticism always seems to come when we need it least. The enemy loves to attack us when we are already down. Yet, the only way to avoid reproach is to determine to be nothing, do nothing, and say nothing.
Charles Briggs wrote, “If your ambition is to avoid the troubles of life, the recipe is simple: shed your ambitions in every direction, cut the wings of every soaring purpose, and seek a little life with the fewest contacts and relations .“
Tiny souls can dodge through life; bigger souls are blocked on every side. As soon as men and women begin to enlarge their lives, their resistances are multiplied….. To be significant is to be misunderstood. Hostility and accusation teach us to pray.
David wrote, “In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer.”Prayer became the essence of David’s life.
Criticism is a powerful instrument to develop our character and our relationship with God. Pain moves us closer to God and makes us more susceptible to his shaping. Our critics often play a significant role in our walk with God – more than we realize.
The great theologian, William Law wrote:
“Receive every inward and outward trouble, every disappointment, pain, and uneasiness with both hands as a true opportunity and blessed occasion for dying to self and entering into a fuller fellowship with our Savior.”
Acknowledge God In The Matter
The first step in dealing with insults and criticism is acknowledging that God sits high and looks low…. David said of Shimei’s ruthless rock-throwing, “Let him alone…. For God sees and will have mercy on me…”
David clearly saw God’s sovereignty in the matter. Shimei wasn’t completely at fault. He was a descendant of King Saul. David had wiped out Shimei’s entire family. David acknowledged that this reproach had some merit. Truth is truth no matter if it comes from the mouth of a prophet or Balaam’s donkey.
Yeshua (Jesus) said, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary” (Matthew 5:25). However, some people cannot forgive and they endlessly process their pain – that is where Shemei found himself.
People with this mindset wait for the opportune time to kick you when you are down – and to give an explanation of your troubles. Do not listen to them. This life will always have a little bitterness to it. We will all experience our own rainy seasons.
Do Not Be Quick to Defend Yourself
Justin the Martyr, wrote, “Perhaps Jesus’ greatest miracle is that he did not retaliate.”When our Lord faced death, instead of bitter resentment against His executioners Yeshua offered up his life to God. That was the secret of His composure and ours.
Augustine wrote, “Heal me of this lust of mine of always vindicating myself.”
Why do we care so much what others say about us? Is it because we place too much value on our own reputations, favor, and the appreciation of men? We have a terrible fear of being despised and rejected? Ahhh… But Yeshua was despised and rejected… a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…. We will experience like manner of afflictions in this life.
While David fled for his life from Absalom… and endured insults from his enemies…. He found peace and the inspiration to write Psalms Chapter Three.
David gave Shimei and all his detractors to God…. zipped up his sleeping bag, fluffed up his pillow….rolled over….and went to sleep.
“O LORD, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
“God will not deliver him.
But you are a shield around me, O LORD;
you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the LORD I cry aloud,
and he answers me from his holy hill.
I lie down and sleep . . . “
Let’s put what we covered today into practice Please view these life changing messages for encouragement and inspiration:
Worship Experience: Spirit Move – Bethel Worship