The book definition for criticism is the expression of disapproval of someone or something based upon a perceived fault or mistake. The key word here is perceived as modern criticism is usually based upon ideology. Subsequently, if your beliefs, convictions or worldview varies from the socially acceptable norm, condemnation, denunciation and nitpicking will arrive fast and furious. When the media chimes in, criticism often snowballs like an avalanche.
They preached the good news to that city and made many disciples, then they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening and establishing the hearts of the disciples; encouraging them to remain firm in the faith, saying, “It is through many tribulations and hardships that we must enter the kingdom of God,” Acts 14:21-22.
Shortly after being stoned by his spiritual opponents, on the verge of death, the apostle Paul gets back on his feet to share a lesson learned from this near death experience. As he walked back to the same town where leaders wanted to kill him, Paul realized that anyone who wants to preach the good news about Jesus Christ must embrace hardship and tribulations. Essentially, Paul is saying “don’t take religious criticism personally as they hated Jesus first,”
Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. 3 Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.
James, the earthly brother of Jesus builds upon Paul’s words in Lystra. Trials build character resulting in spiritual maturity. While criticism can and will be deserved from time to time, Christians must see criticism for what it is, a refining process that leads to genuine faith. The more faith is tested, endurance and inner peace will shine through. No one likes to be criticized, but when you see it through the lens of the Bible, spiritual growth is achieved.
by Jay Mankus