By Rev. C.J. Barry Kentner
Often in our Christian life, we find people who will seemingly set themselves against us…and no matter what we say or do, no matter the quality of our work, they will criticize and minimize. In other words, if it isn’t their style or their point of view …forget it, it doesn’t count!
I’m sure St. Paul had this in mind when he encouraged Timothy to “…endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Tim. 2:3)
Endure and forebear carry much the same meaning….literally “put up with!” If we can, let’s be brutally honest with ourselves…assess our lifestyle, likes and dislikes, and compare them (honestly now) with what Christ expects, (wants and desires) from us. Then ask yourself “what does He put up with from me?” Somehow I wonder if we aren’t more exasperating to our Saviour, then those who come against us are to us?
Advertisements - Click the Speaker Icon for Audio
There is an interesting story in the life of Jeremiah. Chapter 20 tells how he was treated when he prophesied. The offender on this occasion was the chief officer of the temple, Pashur, son of the priest. He had Jeremiah put in stocks and flogged, and left overnight. The next day as he took him from the stocks, Jeremiah prophesied that he would die in Babylon, and then…Jeremiah turns to God and complains. His complaint…verse 9 in part; “…I am weary of enduring it”
Very human. Very much me…what about you? Do you feel that way…that you just cannot put up with it anymore?
There was another prophet: Elijah, who said the same; “I am weary of enduring….” Until he realized he was not alone.
“Enduring hardness”….”forbearing one another in Love” (Eph. 4:2). These commandments from Paul are not meant just for the Christian to Christian relationship. Look at how he phrased it for the Colossian church; Chapter 3, Verse 13 of Colossians. “Be gentle, and forbearing with one another, and if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another – readily pardoning each other (forgiving one another): Even as the Lord has (freely) forgiven you, so must you also forgive!” (The amplified Bible)
Not easy, is it? Proverbs 15:1 reminds us that a “…soft answer turneth away wrath.” Then there is the encouragement from Paul, in Philippians 4:13—“I can do everything through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
I have found laughter and comedy a great way of easing the tension that comes from these situations. God gave me the gift of writing humor, and over the years part of my living has come from writing jokes for comedians. I often say no to some things with the line “I don’t want to lose my Sunday School Pin!” But when a serious issue arises…don’t be afraid to address it head-on. I once told a man “I’m sorry I frustrate you with my views. I don’t do it intentionally.”
I have also approached people with the phrase….”You know, I appreciate what you’re saying…could you please try to appreciate what I’m saying here?”
A classic comeback, of course, is “Whatever happened to freedom of expression?”
Pray the Lord to give you words that will deflect criticism and condemnation with kindness, and gentleness. God knows your style, and His Holy Spirit will match it.
There is a story contained in the fourth chapter of Mark.
It is lost by some because of the Importance of the main theme, but verse 36 reminds us that
“There were with him “Other Little Ships.’”
There were with him, “other ships”
Fragile ones, like mine;
Were any of them lost that day
In the Galilean Brine?
Although He calmed the waves, and wind,
And things returned to Norm…
Was anyone left floundering
Out there in that storm?
I know the Scriptures do not say,
But eternity records;
There surround us “Others”
How is your sea
For the Hordes?
Rev. C.J. Barry Kentner