Consider the Source
Text: II Chronicles 24:15-22
I. A fellow preacher, whom I’ve corresponded with for several years, wrote concerned about how to address a problem.
A. He had recently contacted a man who had been in a preacher’s training program and moved into the area a few months prior. Interestingly, the man had been in the area before and had tried out to preach for this congregation several years before. The man had been worshiping with a very liberal congregation, but said he was confused because the people in his current congregation say this one is wrong and the people in the training program tell him the place he is currently worshiping at is wrong.
B. As the conversation progressed, he told the preacher that he shouldn’t be in the building studying. He should be out on the streets preaching in public and traveling around the world. He told the preacher he wasn’t doing his job.
C. The preacher ask for some material on some of the subjects they discussed, but I got the impression that what man said to the preacher cut him personally.
II. Criticism is beneficial when it comes from wise men
A. David welcomed correction from the righteous - Psalm 141:5
B. The righteous will consider his words carefully - Proverbs 15:28
1. He teaches with his words - Proverbs 16:23
C. There is joy from his mouth - Proverbs 15:23
D. It is appropriate, even in rebuke - Proverbs 25:11-12
III. Criticism is well-meaning when it comes from friends
A. Enemies kiss up to you to disguise their intent - Proverbs 27:5-6
B. Friendship doesn’t preclude telling things that we may not want to hear.
C. Parents punish because they want their child to grow up good and safe - Hebrews 12:6-8
D. Still, it hurts to hear the truth from a friend. And there is a danger that the wounded with turn on the one who loves him - Galatians 4:16
1. Zechariah, like many prophets, lost his life warning the people - II Chronicles 24:20-22
E. Only a friend cares enough to brave the wrath, sneers, and tears that is likely to first come when a friend must be corrected.
IV. But all criticism is not alike. We need to consider the source
A. Our aim is not pleasing people, but God - I Thessalonians 2:4
1. Many people will be pleased by that effort
2. But it won’t ever be all people
B. Have you noticed who does the booing at a ball game?
1. It’s not the players; they made their own mistakes and are not inclined to boo their fellow play when he makes his.
a. Players are pulling for each other and yelling encouragements
b. They understand the win or lose as a team. They suffer as a team. They rejoice as a team.
2. It is the spectators who do the criticizing, not the participants
C. The same is true in each congregation. There are spectators and participants
1. The spectators don’t teach a Bible class, preach, visit, teach their neighbors, lead singing, or get involved in much of anything
a. But they’re the ones who will criticize the preacher, teacher, or other participants.
b. They are the ones who claim to be “embarrassed” when someone makes an error in his efforts to lead the group.
c. R. L. James once noted, “Have you ever noticed that the members of the church who attend the fewest services know the least about the Bible? They gripe the most, kick the most, work the least, and stand the least chance of getting to heaven.”
2. But you don’t find that happening much among the participants
a. They are sympathetic - Romans 12:9-16
b. They feel for another’s failure, they help pick him up, and encourage him to try again - Romans 14:7-8, 13
3. Too often though we work around the demands of the spectators instead of the needs of the participants.
4. The proper congregation - Ephesians 4:31-32
D. If you want financial advice, you wouldn’t ask the homeless man on the street
1. Yet, we let cutting remarks from people who know the least hurt us.
2. Corrections by fools is folly - Proverbs 16:22
3. Fools spout foolishness - Proverbs 15:2
4. The heart of the fool proclaims foolishness - Proverbs 12:23
5. Yet it is the lady on her fifth husband who says you are going about your marriage all the wrong way. And worse, some listen!
6. Ecclesiastes 10:12-13 - The more they say, the worse it gets
V. In my friend’s case, the source of criticism wasn’t admirable or worthy of heeding - Matthew 7:15-20
A. If he was out bring the lost to Christ, then it would be worth hearing his advice. But he doesn’t attend a faithful church, he didn’t even attend faithfully, he hadn’t been a full or part-time preacher, yet he took it upon himself to tell a preacher that he wasn’t doing his job.
B. It is the sinner who will shoot the messenger.
1. You have to expect people who don’t want to hear the message attack and criticize the person makes them look bad - Matthew 10:25-28
C. Before taking a criticism to heart, consider the source.