Wednesday, August 22, 2007

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.

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)


Anonymous said...

OK, I will be first. I will do it anonymously to protect the innocent.

Thanks Wade, this post is for me.
I am working with the most difficult person I have ever met. This post is truly a Word from God for me,

I am bi-vocational in my pastorate and quite frankly, I have dealt with nazis, inmates, atheist, the baptist radical right and the radical left and even bikers.

I could somewhat get along with all them and have been able (by God's grace) to witness to all them over these last 30 or so years.

However, this is my greatest challenge and my responses have not been what I would like them to be.

Thank you and pray our Lord will give me wisdom and grace to deal with the person.

God Bless you all

Anonymous said...

"...he appeared like a man of God, his happiness was beyond the reach of his enemies." That statement was worth it all Wade. Thanks

Rex Ray said...

John Jenkins,
I don’t mean to copy your statement, but when I put Wade’s post in my files, I underlined with bold type: “his happiness was beyond the reach of his enemies.”

It will also apply to “with friends like this who needs enemies.”

Thanks Wade

Scotte Hodel said...

This post works well even for us engineering types. Thanks!

Now, for the next post, can we discuss how to wait patiently for God to put sense into the silly people who ... oh, wait, I just lost the point of the discussion.

Back to meditations on Edwards.

ash said...


I too have added to my memory the statement 'His happiness was beyond the reach of his enemies.'

Truly a classic

Anonymous said...

Yep, and it eventually got him fired.


Anonymous said...

My happiness is out of the reach of my enemies.

DL said...

I too love the line Edwards' happiness being out the reach of his enemies. There are at least two ways this can happen. One way is to be so proud and self-righteous that we ignore and discount our enemies. The other way (and based on biographies, Edwards' way) is to be so heavenly-minded that we don't take our lives here too seriously, but trust ourselves to God. I pray our ability flows from the second, not the first. This isn't an accusation, just a contemplation.

Chad said...

I read Daily Bread every morning and Edwards is one of my heroes. This devotional met me at a time when I needed it. I am thankful God knows what He is doing. Thanks for all your good work Wade.

Anonymous said...


Check the website that links to the previous comment. As well-word as it is it appears someone is playing a joke at your (and Brother Kenney's) expense.


-jack- said...


It seems you are correct. I don't know Wes Kenney, but I don't believe the singer would have any interest in the SBC. said...

P.S. Jack, I removed his post.

Anonymous said...

Wade et al.,

Last night my Pastor preached on "Little Things Mean a Lot". His text was Ephesians 1:1-2.

There has been much discussion about Edwards' "happiness". I believe that this has been mis-characterized. I believe that it should've read "peace".

Much like "grace", "peace" in the context which we as Children of the King experience it, is not something we get, it is something we rest in. It is not of us, it is for us.

The Peace of God. Beyond the reach of any enemy. You may vilify me, you may strike me, you may hurt me, you may even kill me. But you will not remove me from the Peace of God.

Little Things truly mean a lot.

Grace and Peace.

Gary from Norman