How do we react to hostile criticism? If it causes us to strike back angrily at our critics, we need to learn from colonial preacher Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758).
Regarded by scholars as an insightful philosopher, Edwards was vindictively attacked by the ruling body of his churh in Northampton, Massachusetts. They felt he was wrong to teach that a person needed to be born again before taking part in the Lord's Supper.
Although he was dismissed from his church, Edwards still maintained a loving and forgiving attitude. One supportive member wrote of him, "I never saw the least symptoms of displeasure in his countenance . . ., but he appeared like a man of God, whose happiness was out of reach of his enemies."
Edwards was simply copying the example of the Lord Jesus. When the Savior was insulted, He did not repay with an insult. When He was falsely denounced, He remained silent, "as a sheep before its shearers is silent" (Isa. 53:7).
Do you have an inner peace even when criticized? As you ask the Holy Spirit for His help, you can, as Edwards did, respond in a Christlike way to false accusations or gossip.
"Be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing" (I Peter 3:8-9)
The Worst Criticism Can Bring Out the Best in Us
My Oklahoma internet friend, Roger Simpson, drew my attention to the Daily Bread article dated August 22, 2007. His email was timely as I gleaned a wonderful lesson on handling criticism from the life of one of my theological heroes - Jonathan Edwards.