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Friday, September 28, 2012

A CAUTION AGAINST CRITICISM


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A CAUTION AGAINST CRITICISM
by Pastor Mark Taylor

“And Jesus said: Forbid them not.”   Mark 9:38-40

In this sermon I am not talking about not being critical of sin, but of those serving the Lord. But even in that it should be done in a redemptive way to bring a person to Christ.  This message is about criticizing other people who are serving the Lord Jesus Christ in a different way than you or I do.

Criticism seldom, if ever, works. Even in our sincere efforts to help people, they don’t always appreciate it, and it tends to tear people down more than it builds them up. 

Even so, it’s a terrible tendency especially for those of us who have followed Christ for a while. We’ve learned so much over the years.  If we’re not careful we find ourselves becoming critical of those who are less experienced or who just don’t do it the way we have done it for years.  Worst of all, we can become crabby, old cranks that nobody can please, and I know none of us wants that.   So watch out for a critical spirit, because it really doesn’t benefit those we are trying to help, and in the long-run, it is self-destructive. 

But somebody says, “I really want to help people. If pointing out their faults doesn’t work, what does?” That’s the question I want us to explore this morning: How can we truly help people? How can we help the young and those with less experience grow in their relationship with Christ and serve Christ better? 

We have people who worship the Lord in different ways.  Some like traditional music, some like contemporary music, and others like “high church” music.  Some like short sermons and others like long sermons.

“Forbid him Not”  is a command from our Lord not to discourage others from serving Him, either by your authority, your arguments, or your persuasions.  If you have authority within the church, do not use that to stop the work of God.  
Do not cause people to stop expressing their love for Christ, just because it is different than yours.  If you are not careful you might find yourself “fighting against God”.
n I want us to explore this morning: How can we truly help people? How can we help the young and those with less experience grow in their relationship with Christ and serve Christ better? 

Well, let’s see how Jesus addressed that problem with his first disciples who themselves were becoming overly critical. You see, they had followed Jesus for three years, and they had learned from the best – Jesus Himself! So when they see somebody else trying to do their ministry, they stop him. 

Mark 9:38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” (NIV)  He didn’t go to the right “school.” He didn’t do it the way we do it, so we stopped him. 

The disciples were quick to point out to Jesus that the person who was “casting out devils in Jesus name”.... “he’s not one of us; he’s not our kind.” 

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you." (Matthew 7:1-2)

What does Jesus have to say about this? 

Mark 9:39-40 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. (NIV)

We should encourage who ever God has saved and called to worship Him.  As an older more mature Christian, you should be the one who strengthens others who are trying to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus says, and I’m going to reward the least little effort of anyone who serves in my name. 

Mark 9:41 “I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.” (NIV)

So don’t stop the young and inexperienced. Don’t stop those who are trying to serve the Lord Jesus differently than you do.

Don’t hinder them from serving. Don’t keep them from ministering in Jesus’ name, even if all they do is give a cup of cold water, because Jesus appreciates it even if we would criticize it. 

There are people right here in this room who need to hear your words of appreciation today. They don’t need to hear your words of criticism, of how they did it wrong. They need to hear you say, “I appreciate you. I appreciate your efforts to serve. Thank you very much.”   Oh, how much we could lighten the load for each other just by saying, “Thank you” on a regular basis. Our words of encouragement can provide even the most weary servant the courage it takes to keep on going one more day. On the other hand, our critical comments can stop them dead in their tracks. 

Please, let’s watch our criticism lest our words of criticism stop the efforts of others to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Sure, they’re going to make mistakes. Sure, they have a lot to learn, but we don’t help them when our critical remarks keep them from trying any further. Please, don’t stop people from serving with critical remarks.   Don’t cause them to stumble. Don’t trip them up with your words. That’s what Jesus warns His disciples about. 

Do you truly want to help people? Do you truly want to help the young and inexperienced grow in their relationship with Christ and in their ability to serve Him? Then don’t stop them with words of criticism, and don’t scandalize them. Instead, deal with your own faults first, and then try to help others.

We never know what other people are dealing with, and the last thing they need is somebody putting them down. Instead they need somebody to lift them up. They need somebody to come along side them and to encourage them when they are down.  When they see your words are words of love, they will listen to you and at least give your words some thought.  Then the Holy Spirit can work in their lives to change wrong methods or beliefs.  You can't change people, but God can through your love and patience.

Learn to give people the benefit of the doubt. Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, excellent and admirable, think on these things. Look more at the 50% of the jar that is full and positive instead of the 50% that is negative or empty.

Let God be the judge and do not try to take His place as the righteous judge. This will go a long ways in preventing problems and resolving differences and minimizing self-destructive attitudes, actions and thinking.  This will help the work of Christ if we let Him handle those who worship different or even believe different than we do.