“And so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
Elbert Hubbard once wisely said, “To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”
The truth is, no matter what we do, we will likely be criticized in some way. As such, when you boldly follow God in faith, expect to be criticized.
I was recently reading John 5 when verse 10 caught my attention. In John 5 we read of how Jesus healed a crippled man, a man who had been in his condition for 38 years. Seeing his state and being filled with compassion, we pick up the story in verse 6.
“When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.”
Incredible. After 38 years of being unable to walk, at Jesus’ command alone the man was miraculously healed, able to walk, perhaps for the very first time.
While we would assume such a miracle would be met with awe, with wonder, with admiration for the healing Jesus had performed, there was a problem. You see, verse 9 tells us this miraculous event took place on the Sabbath. The result?
In verse 10 we read the response of the Jews. “And so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” Think about this for a minute now. For 38 years this man could not walk. He has now been miraculously healed, but rather than praising God for what has happened, the Jews were critical of what Jesus did because it challenged their perception of how things should be done.
Have you ever been obedient to follow God’s plan for you, as Jesus did when healing this man, only to be criticized? If so, let me encourage you today, do not deviate from God’s plan for your life because of criticism. God gave you the vision, the dream, the plan. He did not give it to others and often times, sadly, we tend to criticize what we do not understand.
Continue to follow God in faith, even in the face of criticism.
Now let me ask perhaps a more difficult question. When you see someone else faithfully following where God is leading, do you cheer them on with words of encouragement and affirmation, or do you criticize? Ouch, this one is far tougher isn’t it? If we’re honest, most of us would likely admit that while we hate to be criticized, we often are critical of others, throwing cold water on their faith inspired plans. I know I have.
While the reasons for a disparaging spirit are many – often times painted in light of concern, reasoning, and practicality, let us be careful not to criticize the work of God because it does not fit into our own perception of how things should be.
Today, if you find yourself on the receiving end of criticism, don’t be discouraged.
Learn to expect it and continue following God wherever He leads in spite of it. If you find today you are the one being critical of another, I would encourage you to chat with God about it. Ask Him what is truly behind your spirit and how He wants you to move forward in a way that is honoring to Him.
Imagine how much more we could each accomplish if we learned to overcome criticism of ourselves and to not be critical of others. Let’s purpose today to do just that!