Monday, December 5, 2011

Thought for today

This morning I was, as sometimes I hear the expression, "feeling a certain kind of way" (I won't get into why), and I remembered a chapter I read in a book by Lewis Smedes and I decided to revisit the chapter. The chapter is titled, "All the World's a Critic, and You're Tired of Reading the Reviews." I got the book from the bookshelf, went back and read the chapter again and found some gems there. I am sharing them now because they are helping inform Bible study tomorrow (from our lesson in Matthew 7) and possibly even the sermon for Sunday.
Smedes writes, "Critics are all around us: some welcomed, some self-appointed nuisances. They size us up, take our measure, weigh us in their scales, and form their own opinions of our lives...they will call us to account before the bar of their judgment.
"Let's begin with the critic out there - your neighbor. Saint Paul, almost offhandedly, declared his own freedom from human judgment this way: 'With me it is a small thing that I should be judged by you or any human court.' Freely translated, it comes to this: 'You will evaluate my conduct and you will make an assessment of me, I know, and when you do I will listen to you. I know that you will size up my work, and when you do, I will consider what you say. I know that you judge me because you care about me; so I will care about what you say. What you say and what you think about me matters to me. But I want you to know that after I have wrestled with my own conscience, after I have consulted my own convictions, and after I have made my decisions, your judgment will not matter much. It matters some, but not much. I will not let your appraisal tell me how to feel about what I am and what I do. I will not rest my case with you.'
"(Paul) does not say that he cares nothing for the feelings of other people. He says, 'I have got to put your criticism on the back burner and live my own life before the Lord. I will not be intimidated. I will not be condemned. I will not be damned by other people's judgments. I will be free.'"
It helps to remember what Smedes says here because when you feel that your are being criticized (rightly or wrongly) it has the effect of feeling like a very heavy burden that you are forced to carry on your back. Criticism makes life a chore; relationships can tend to become almost too tedious to enjoy. Another word for this is criticism is judging, which is a topic we are going to discuss in Bible study tomorrow at noon and 7 PM. I hope you will join us as we will seek to find constructive ways to deal with criticism and judging, and maybe even learn a few methods of living with and especially finding the freedom to put people and their criticisms and judgments of us out of our minds.
Pastor Kenneth Q. James
Psalm 119:33-34
"Let truth, the light of my heart, speak to me, and not my own darkness!"
Augustine, Confessions, Book XII, Chapter 10

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