By Diane Virginia
Criticism. Each of us has endured it. Perhaps we’ve even countered it with a tongue lashing of our own and then regretted the words as we’ve seen them fuel the flame for the offender.
What is the biblical answer to responding to our critics? Let’s look at Romans 12:19-20. Paul writes, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, rather overcome evil with good.”So, what do we learn from this verse?
First, notice how Paul addresses you. You are “dearly beloved.” That address alone should comfort us. It is reassuring to me, and I am sure to you also, that we are Christ’s beloved.
Second, wait on God’s timing. If a correction needs to be made in a person’s life, God will do it. He is patient, and His loving kindness works salvation of spirit, soul, and body in an individual, including the one criticizing you. Since only God knows the heart motive, He alone can bring correction, and He alone can bring judgment.
Third, perform acts of kindness no matter how small. The reference to “coals of fire” is a hidden gem. In biblical times, fire was ignited by coals and carried in a container on the head. One of the kindest acts a person could do was to rekindle a person’s lost flame. Kindle your enemy’s lost flame.
Jesus demonstrates for us the best example of being kind during extreme duress. Even so, He countered criticism by offering the gift of salvation.
Let’s examine the Scriptures:
“And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, he saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him… And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.” Mark 15:29-32, 37-39
The passersby, the religious leaders, and the thieves criticized Jesus as He hung on the cross. Did He hate them and free Himself, as He was able to do? No. Jesus stayed on the cross, completed His mission, and loved the critics. By this act of compassion, the gift of salvation was brought to fruition. Because Jesus died, paid the penalty of sin, and rose again, salvation is available to all who trust Him and confess Jesus as Lord and Savior.
While His critics railed, He extended mercy to one of the two thieves who died alongside Him as the thief asked for forgiveness. One of the soldiers who guarded the cross came to salvation by witnessing Jesus’ act of compassion. This guard noted that Jesus spoke with a loud voice, which was possible only with supernatural strength, for in Christ’s crucified state, the lungs would not be able to push air across the vocal cords with enough strength to shout loudly. Jesus did the impossible, and spoke loudly from the cross as He gave His Spirit into the hands of His Father. The soldier saw the veil of the Temple, that was torn from top to bottom, as the Son of Man submitted to His Father’s will. Thus, Jesus became for us the Living Temple we now come to.
Nothing stopped Jesus from completing His mission. Remember that, so that nothing your critics do can stop you from completing your God-given mission. You are loved by Jesus. You are His beloved. Let that be enough. In gratitude, give love to others at all times, even to your critics.