A Servants Heart, Compassion, & Receiving Criticism
Recently I've had an encounter with another servant of the Lord where I shared with him some, shall we say, mildly unpleasant information - it was nothing "big" but something he should know. The problem was that there was some division in the ministry (between others and their thoughts towards him as a leader) and I wanted to see if we could address it. I tried my best to be humble, and gently convey the information. (See proverbs 16:23,24)
The servant didn't receive the information and was closed minded and combative about the information. I felt awkward and tried to minister to the brother in Christ, yet nothing seemed to help. What started out as a simple word for him, turned out to be contentious, hurtful, and stirred up anger in him. It was like I was saying the sky is blue, and he'd think I was telling him the roses are red. Sometimes the message sent is not the message received. Also I'd like to consider that as a servant of the Lord we should all be open to receive a message from another brother; no matter how weird it may seem to us, we could still say something respectful, like "Thank you and I'll ask the Lord Jesus to reveal more of what you are saying to me."
Here are some verses that I reflected on that helped me to shed God's light on this situation. First I'll address the twisting of the words that I was saying to the servant.
In Luke 22:20-28 Jesus tells his disciples of the new covenant in blood, and to break bread and drink wine. He also says someone will betray him! So Jesus is talking about his death and that someone will betray him and then the disciples dispute among them who will be the greatest with Jesus in the Kingdom of God. Bizzare to me (now as a sideline-quarter back). Don't you think they should have had compassion and mercy for Jesus? Ask him questions? Console him? But no! - Selfishness coupled with pride was their attitude! This was plainly the levianthan spirit twisting Jesus' words and the disciples receiving something completely different. (please see: OVERCOMING THE SPIRIT OF LEVIATHAN)
Jesus goes on to tell them that the greatest will be the one who serves at the table. In our world, of course the one at the table being served is thought of greater than the "server". Jesus says not so, and even sites this: "I am among you as one who serves." The bible explains in many places that pride is the cause of the fall, and that those who are humble will inherit the kingdom of God.
James 4:5-8 ...God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
So was it pride that prevented the servant from receiving the message. I'm not sure, but Jesus knows. But really we should all just check our prideful and haughty spirits at the door and fall at the feet of Jesus, and ask for his grace and mercy to pour out on and through our lives. Be the "light" and don't let darkness into your heart! Above all, if someone has a word for you, receive it with poise, dignity and let the Lord strengthen your heart. Even if you don't agree with the word imparted to you, it is best to just say, "I will pray about what you are telling me, and may the Lord reveal to me my impurities. Thank you brother for having the courage and strength to share this with me".
Wisdoms instruction is to fear the Lord, and humility comes before honor.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud. 20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,[a] and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord. 21 The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction
Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city
Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.
Before a downfall the heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor. 13 To answer before listening- that is folly and shame.
by Joel Thompson