August 26, 2020 Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church

Weekly Encouragement - 8/26

Weekly Encouragement - 8/26

Pastor Brennan and I are sending a weekly encouragement based upon Galatians 5:15 and guided by Alexander Strauch’s, If You Bite and Devour Each Other. The aim is to instruct what God’s Word teaches about conflict and how we should respond. When conflict flares, we must consider the instruction of God’s Word to walk as children in light. We pray that these might be profitable for correction and instruction in the Word of God.

“Control the Criticism"

The sixth biblical principle to consider for handling conflict is to control the criticism. Criticism is the act of judging unfavorably or faultfinding. There are times when criticism is necessary and right, such as a friend finding fault with your actions (Prov. 27:6). Nevertheless, as Alexander Strauch writes, “Faultfinding critics have an amazing ability to gather a flock of contentious complainers, and they can wield fearsome destructive power in a church.” 

Paul warns against quarreling over “opinions” or “disputed matters”, which appear to be distinct from fundamental doctrines (Rom. 14:1). By separating “opinions” or “disputed matters” from fundamental doctrines, Scripture recognizes freedom for disagreement. Paul’s concern, however, is the kind of person we become in such disagreements. Too easily criticism can be in the form of slander or unmerciful judgments. 

Another kind of criticism is grumbling. J.A. Motyer writes, “Grumbling is associated with selfish complaining, unbalanced criticism of small matters, impatience towards what is not understood, grudging unwillingness to be helpful.” James warns against grumbling against one another and Paul admonishes believers to do all things without grumbling (James 5:9; Phil. 2:14).

How do we replace this sinful criticism with godly instruction? 

First, pray for wisdom and tact. D.A. Carson writes, “All of us would be wiser if we would resolve never to put people down, except on our prayer lists.” 

Second, check your attitudes and motives. Ask yourself, “Does my criticism violate the commands of Scripture?” 

Third, speak gently. Gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23).

Fourth, include words of encouragement. Charles Spurgeon once said, “Blame comes best on the back of praise.” 

Fifth, welcome criticism. If we need to rebuke our brother or sister in Christ, we must also be willing to receive it. David writes, “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.” (Ps. 141:5). You might find that your critics are your best teachers.