Tuesday, February 3rd

“Again Jesus entered the synagogue, and a man was there who had a withered hand.  They watched him to see whether he would cure him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him.”  Mark 3:1-2


One of the most important gifts of the Spirit is the gift of discernment – the ability to not only see reality, but to sort through what you see until you see the truth.  Discernment requires experience, wisdom, courage and humility.  Discernment also requires love.


Discernment is an important skill in hearing and responding to criticism.  It enables us to tell the difference between constructive and destructive criticism.  Both types of criticism invite a response – but they are two very different types of responses.


Jesus certainly is a guide for us in dealing with destructive criticism.  He faced a lot of it.  The Pharisees were always on guard to catch Jesus in an inconsistency or an error.  Their efforts were motivated by self protection, power and jealousy.  The Pharisees made a mockery of God’s call to love the neighbor.  The Pharisees turned the law of love upside down in their blind devotion to their own carefully crafted religious system.


One of the ways that Jesus dealt with the destructive criticism of the Pharisees was to ignore them.  Motivated by his inner compass of love, Jesus responded to the needs of the people around him, regardless of the reactions of the Pharisees.  He ate with sinners and tax collectors, he healed people on the Sabbath, he allowed his disciples to dispense with dietary customs and prohibitions against mixing with the “wrong” people.


A first step in responding to criticism is to ask: Is the source of the criticism I am hearing motivated by love for all, especially love for the unlovely?  Or, is the source motivated by self protection or self serving?  Am I motivated, in my actions, by love or by self?


Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you know the struggle to forge ahead in life in the face of opposition and criticism.  Help us to discern the truth when confronted with voices which question and challenge us.  Guide us, by the power of your Spirit working in us, in making love for our neighbor our primary motivation in life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.



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