The only thing people can criticize…
Have you been disappointed in Christians lately? I have. Christian students, employees and parents are supposed to be marked by excellence. Not perfect, but excellent.
And I am disappointed every time we are not.
We are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:45), answer those who revile us with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15), exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit of God in all we do (Galatians 5:22-23), and work wholeheartedly to the gloof God:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men: (Colossians 3:23); So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
Are my standards too high? I don’t think so. The Holy Spirit of God lives in us and He is perfect, powerful and personal.
The Spirit can shine through us!
Many know the story of Daniel in the lion’s den, but I was captivated recently by the description of Daniel just prior to this miraculous event. Darius the Mede chose Daniel and two other administrators to supervise the high officers and protect the king’s interests.
As you read about Daniel, might this describe you as well?
Daniel soon proved himself more capable than all the other administrators and high officers. Because of Daniel’s great ability, the king made plans to place him over the entire empire. Then the other administrators and high offices began searching for some fault in the way Daniel was handling government affairs, but they couldn’t find anything to criticize or condemn.
They couldn’t find anything to criticize.
Are you kidding me? Nothing? I wrote in the margin of my Bible, “Me too, Lord. Please.” I was invigorated afresh with a commitment to strive for excellence in all I do. It’s wording I use with my son: Don’t just do the job, do it with excellence. Finish the chore. Write your best while doing homework. Greet people with energy and a smile. It’s wording I use with myself. I pray for the ability to grade and teach well, write and speak well, and love people well. Whatever it is, I want to do it well. I want to do it so well,
…that there isn’t anything to criticize or condemn.
My family would laugh reading these aspirations of mine, and maybe my students and colleagues, neighbors and friends too. I make mistakes every day and speak honestly about my struggles. But I also hope people see me trusting God to be excellent in all of my work, caring so much that I am quick to apologize when I mess up and quick to give God credit for anything that “works out.”
When someone is excellent, what can they criticize?
So they concluded, “Our only chance of finding grounds for accusing Daniel will be in connection with the rules of his religion.”
The only thing they could go after was His faith.
Our faith in Jesus will offend, and when we are criticized, may these principles bring us comfort and joy:
- It is Jesus that offends, not us: Jesus told his disciples, If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me first. (John 15:18) Persecution is not personal.
- God rewards: If we are causing drama and conflict because of sinful patterns, our faith might be mocked because we are not walking the talk. The persecution God rewards is for living well as a Christ follower: God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, (Matthew 5:10); But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed (1 Peter 3:14). Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven…(Matthew 5:11-12)
- Jesus is showing. It is possible to live a good life without associating ourselves with Jesus. Such a decision would eliminate a lot of criticism or persecution, but it would also mean our faith wasn’t showing, and that would be a travesty. Whenever our faith is showing, that is always good news, no matter the outcome.
- It’s the only target they could find: Faith becomes a target when a person’s life is excellent in all other ways, which is what occurred with Daniel. If that is all people can find to criticize, we are living with excellence.
- We share in the sufferings of Jesus: Our Savior was mocked, beaten, scorned, despised and killed for doing everything right, living with utmost excellence. When the same happens to us, we have the privilege of sharing in the sufferings of our beloved Jesus (1 Peter 4:13; Romans 8:17).
Okay folks, let’s do this.
Let’s up our game and pray for a life of excellence like Daniel: Lord, we ask for your hand to be upon all we do so our life is marked with excellence for Your glory. May people not find anything to criticize or condemn except our faith.
“Us too, Lord. Please. Us too.”
Picture Explanation: We got out of suburbia to see some trees and tour a gold mine in one of our favorite towns. Yes, the Aetna inscription on the wooden boxes is the same Aetna we now know as a medical insurance company, which our family greatly appreciates. The company made dynamite for gold mining way back when.
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