Jump Start # 2852
2 Corinthians 10:10 “For they say, ‘His letters are weighty and strong, but his personal presence is unimpressive and speech is contemptible.”
Paul was really getting nailed by his critics in this second letter to the Corinthians. Unimpressive. Contemptible. Other translations use the words: weak, no account, amounts to nothing. Words sting. They have a way to sticking to us. We tend to forget compliments but always hold on to the complaints.
And, when it comes to preaching, the worst thing that can be said is that the sermon stinks. One may not like the sound of the preacher’s voice, but if he can deliver God’s word in a passionate and practical way, we overlook that. We may not like the outfit the preacher wears. Look beyond that. What’s he saying. But when the Corinthians said his speech was of no account, contemptible, that hurts.
When one does things in the public, although he wants everyone to like him, he must have some thick skin. These days, every politician that runs for office, goes through the grinder of public criticism. It’s so bad, most wouldn’t want it. Mean things can be said about the candidates position, his family, and his character. It can be brutal.
But it’s not just politicians that have to endure this. In our climate today, many Christians are looked at through the microscope of judgment by family and co-workers. Every action, every word, every detail is analyzed, scrutinized, criticized and brought before the judges of condemnation. It can be brutal. Some have quit their jobs simply because they could not take all the things being said about them.
So, how do we deal with criticism?
First, take it to the Lord in prayer. Whenever we are hurt, we need the Lord’s help. Prayer will help us to stay in our place. It will keep us from lashing out and making things worse. God knows. God knows whether Paul was impressive or unimpressive. It was the Holy Spirit that was inspiring Paul to preach. So, to say his speech is contemptible is really an attack upon God and reveals how little his critics knew.
Second, often silence is the best response. Solomon tells us that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. Knowing those times is essential. What doesn’t work is for you to counter attack. That’s the way wars begin. One side sends missiles. The other side sends more back. In verbal discussions, the issue at hand is lost in all the missiles that are launch to destroy the opponents character. We must remember when Jesus was reviled, He uttered no threats in return. He put His trust in the God.
Third, consider what is said. Often critics say things in a mean and hateful way. However, what they say, might be true. Look through your soul. Is it possible? Are they seeing things that you fail to see? If so, change. If so, do better. But also, remember, just because someone says something doesn’t mean that it is true. Some can say things loudly and forcibly but that doesn’t mean they are right. Paul’s critics weren’t right. I doubt Paul could preach like Apollos. Paul is never called an eloquent man. Most today would probably like to hear Apollos more than Paul. However, this wasn’t a contest. This isn’t the VOICE where the best one wins. God had chosen Paul for what He was doing. To think that Paul wasn’t up to that task questions the judgment of God. God is never wrong.
Fourth, there is a tendency when criticized to give up, toss in the towel and quit. This happens to many young preachers. This happens to us in our engagement in the kingdom. Someone doesn’t like a class we taught. So, our reaction is, “I’ll never teach again.” Someone does like some food you took to a family. The immediate thought is, “I’ll stop taking food.” Critics may be wanting you to quit more than anything else. Where would we be today, had Paul run home because the Corinthians thought he was unimpressive? Paul didn’t quit. He left us an example to follow. Stay with what you know is right and keep doing it. Our focus must be on trying to please the Lord more than trying to get everyone to like us. Everyone who has been on a public stage, whether a school play, a politician giving a speech, a singer preforming, a preacher preaching, has had those who did not like them. The first record company that heard the Beatles, wasn’t impressed. The statement was, “Guitar groups are on the way out.” Hang in there in spite of what the critics say.
Finally, we must be careful that we are not the ones saying “Unimpressive” to Paul. Some things should not be said. The goal if you are going to critique or criticize is to build up and make better, not destroy. The words you choose, the tone of your voice, and when and where you do this can make all the difference in the world. Put yourself into the golden rule. How would you want someone to address you?
Unimpressive…I’ve seen movies that were not very impressive to me. I know I have preached many sermons that were not impressive. The goal in preaching is not to be impressive, but to lead people to Jesus. The goal is to connect to the Lord. Maybe those Corinthians started with the wrong expectations. Maybe the fault wasn’t with Paul, but with them. It may well be that God wasn’t very impressed with those Corinthian critics.
Sure is something to think about…