Be courteous; not returning
evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing. —1 Peter
How do we react to hostile
criticism? If it causes us to strike back angrily at our critics, we need to
learn from colonial preacher Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758).
Regarded by scholars as an
insightful philosopher, Edwards was vindictively attacked by the ruling body of
his church in Northampton, Massachusetts. They felt he was wrong to teach that
a person needed to be born again before taking part in the Lord’s Supper.
Although he was dismissed
from his church, Edwards still maintained a loving and forgiving attitude. One
supportive member wrote of him, “I never saw the least symptoms of displeasure
in his countenance . . . , but he appeared like a man of God, whose happiness
was out of the reach of his enemies.”
Edwards was simply copying
the example of the Lord Jesus. When the Savior was insulted, He did not repay
with an insult. When He was falsely denounced, He remained silent, “as a sheep
before its shearers is silent” (Isa. 53:7).
Do you have an inner peace
even when criticized? As you ask the Holy Spirit for His help, you can, as Edwards
did, respond in a Christlike way to false accusations or gossip. —Vernon C
The worst criticism of you
can bring out the best in you.