Coping with Criticism
Merciful Lord, I open my heart to You now. See my sin and graciously forgive it all, I pray.
Read Mark 3:20-35
 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.  When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”  And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”  So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.  In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.  I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them.  But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”  He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”  Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.  A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”  “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.  Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWho did Jesus say are his family?
It is one thing to be criticized by people who we know we disagree with. It is quite another matter when the criticism is personal, and comes from those who we look to for love and support. Jesus experienced both. How must it have felt for him when his family arrived, claiming that he was “out of his mind” (20)? I suspect that a good many tears were shed that day.
Let’s not gloss over the deep personal pain that Jesus must have felt. Not only were the leading rabbis denouncing his teaching as satanic, but his own family was attacking him, too. Is it any wonder that he looked at the people who had made sacrifices to learn from him (20) and declared, “Here are my mother and brothers” (34)?
Criticism is painful, whether justified or not, and Jesus received a generous serving of it. In both cases his response is clear, balanced and positive. He did not hit back, get defensive, or run and hide. He calmly pointed out the error of his public accusers (24-26). He did not disown his family. He simply acknowledged the love of those who were willing to trust him.
Consider how you normally respond to criticism. The last time it happened, how might you have responded better?
Lord Jesus, You withstood a lot of criticism so well. Help me to receive it with graciousness and discernment.
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