Flattery Or Criticism
J. Vernon McGee: The most dangerous place for a Christian is that place where other Christians admire him.
When a great number of believers admire us we need to be careful not to thrive on that. Indeed, the Bible teaches that we are to seek honor from God first and God alone. If we are seeking honor from men there is something wrong with our faith. Our faith is then in men rather than in God.
John 5:44: How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
Even our prayers can be tainted if we pray to be heard by other people. If we are talking to people when we pray God is under no obligation to answer.
Matthew 6:5-6: And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
If we pray to be seen and heard by men our reward is to be seen and heard by men.
John 5:45: But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
We should be careful when praying in public that we pray to reach God and to please God, not men. Praying in public is a good way to teach others by example how to pray.
New believers need to be taught by mature believers to hear from God through the Bible and speak to God in prayer. The purpose of the taught one should be to grow in his own relationship with the Lord. The purpose of the teacher should be to help the learners to grow in their relationship with the Lord. It should never be to promote a following for himself. A learner should have more than one Bible teacher. He should not attach himself to just one teacher for life. He should study the Bible for himself and be sure to learn from teachers that are accurate in teaching the Bible.
1 Corinthians 11:1: Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:28: And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
Please note that the word teachers is plural and note who gives the teachers. When believers admire us we can be in a dangerous place and when unbelievers admire us we are probably in a more dangerous place.I have heard it said that we can learn truth about a man from his critics, those that oppose him. You can sometimes judge a man by who his enemies are and what they believe and how they act. You can tell where a man stands by where his enemies stand. There are people whom I am glad are my enemies and not my friends. I would have to agree with things that are wrong in order to be friends with some people and to avoid their criticism. There are people no Christian should want for friends. Jesus had His critics. If we walk with Him and serve Him we too will have our critics. You can sometimes tell which team we are on by which team we are against. In a sense we should choose our enemies just as wisely as we choose our friends.
We Christians are on the same team with God The Father, God The Son and God the Holy Spirit. When we are proclaiming God*s truth and are rejected it is ultimately God that is rejected.
Matthew 10:40: He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
Luke 10:16: He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
John 13:20: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
When we are rejected as we serve Christ it can be just as painful as being personally rejected for our own merits. I have had people who were rejecting me when I was speaking about the Lord who stopped rejecting me when I stopped speaking about the Lord. On the other side of that I have people who rejected me until I began speaking about Christ. No matter what we do there will be someone who will reject us. We can as Christians behave in an obnoxious and ungracious way and deserve to be rejected. When that happens it is we who are rejected and not God. We must be careful not to let our behaviour be an issue in dealing with unbelievers. We must be careful that God*s message is the issue. We must be sure that they have opportunity to reject or accept Christ. Whether or not they reject you or me is irrelevant. Rejecting Christ is irreverent. There is a world of difference between those two words. Rejecting me hurts my feelings. Rejecting Christ sends them to Hell. Are we willing to suffer rejection in order to serve Christ?
They might reject Christ or they might reject us or they might reject Christ and us at the same time. They might convince themselves that they are only rejecting a human. They might even convince themselves that they are doing God a service.
We all like encouragement and praise and dislike criticism. If God guides someone to praise us or to criticize us it is for our benefit. There can be value in both. Whether we are receiving praise or criticism from men we shouldn*t get too down or too up. We ought to try to learn what God wants us to learn from it. There can be a grain of truth in the most hateful criticism and a great deal of falsehood in praise. Consider the source.
Romans 12:3: For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Proverbs 25:27: It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.
Ecclesiastes 7:16: Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?
Proverbs 27:2: Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.
We ought to ask the Lord to give us the right estimation of ourselves so that we won*t get proud. We also need the right estimation of ourselves so that we know we can be useful to Him.
Luke 6:26: Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.