Matthew 12:22-30 How to Handle Critics

1)   There will always be critics

No good deed goes unpunished

I always hated that phrase but the longer I live the more true it becomes. Jesus was healing people and meeting their physical needs, yet there were still those who found a way to criticize not what He was doing, but how He was doing it.

Our society has established  the “Good Samaritan Law” so that those who help out will not later be sued by the person they were trying to help. They did that so that people would not be hesitant to help someone in need even if they did not do everything correctly. So no  matter who you are and how you are trying to help there will always be people criticizing what you are doing.

The People were amazed

The people were recognizing that Jesus just might be the one who was promised because they could tell that He was more than a prophet because of the miracles He performed and how He performed them.

This man cannot be the Son of David, can He?

Isaiah 29:18 In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness
the eyes of the blind shall see.

This was a common term for the promised Messiah and the religious leaders knew exactly what the people were thinking so they had to find something to criticize Jesus about or all the people might follow Him. The people were not totally sure because there was confusion about how the Son of David would act. They thought of David as a warrior who conquered and that is what they thought the Messiah would do. So when Jesus came into the world in humbleness they were confused and although the miracles and healings is what they expected they did not understand that He was not acting as a conqueror .

The religious leaders used this confusion and  quickly tried to discredit Jesus. If the religious leaders could get them to doubt Jesus power than they had a chance to not forfeit their authority over the people to Him. The Pharisees were in a position that the people followed them because they assumed spiritual leadership and knowledge that had the people of  that day blindly following them.

“We must never assume that religious leaders are good just because they claim to be so. The Pharisees sounded good. … In judging religious figures, we must look beyond their words to their hearts and test whether they are genuinely serving God or themselves. Most founders of cults come from evangelical churches and are unmasked too late. (Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament)

I have always grown disheartened by Christians when all you are trying to do is help people and you find them criticizing you or how you are doing it. It is not that you are not doing good it is that those people want credit or power over service to the people.

2)   Critics will lie or not know the truth

Good stories do not have to be true

There is a State Farm Commercial where the girl says a bunch of things that are not true and the guy ask her where she heard it and she responds, “the Internet”. The commercial ends where she is going on a blind date with a so called french model that looks nothing like a french model or any other model for that matter.

As comical as that is as a commercial the reality in our day and age for stories to be circulated that are not true is deadly. With the Internet and mass media, stories can spread as truth that have no validity to them. This is the exact method the Pharisees used as they begin to spread rumors through the crowd about Jesus

“He cast out demons by Beelzebub the ruler of demons”

This was their only angle they had because the supernatural power was so evident they could only discredit Him by accusing Him of getting His power from Satan. The way it is written it shows that they were not outright accusing Jesus but spreading that around the crowd.

Jesus knowing their thoughts

The Pharisees must have been shocked when Jesus revealed the lie that they were spreading about Him. We do not have that luxury of knowing what someone is really saying about us and so we must live our lives in such a way that the critics lies will be eventually exposed. But in this case the lie was about Jesus and that was more damaging than any lie said about us.

What we believe about Jesus is everything

Distorted Views about Jesus continue to this day: Some will say that Christianity is a Western religion which could not be further from the truth. Native Americans thought that Christianity was a White Mans religion until it was explained to them that Christianity was in a  Eastern culture written to an Eastern people and spread to the World.

Non Judgmental Jesus: where Jesus loves everyone and all get into heaven. Universalism is one the  tenants of new age spirituality but if you take it to its furthest conclusion than Hitler makes it in. Jesus makes it clear that the only way to the Father is through Him and so to believe differently than that is to deny Jesus own words, (John 14:6) and to deny Jesus own words would mean you are not a follower of Jesus.

A Kingdom divided against itself will fall

The people knew that Rome had no fear of outside intruders but they did fear internal conflicts.This is how the religious leaders were able to get Jesus executed on false charges because Rome hated internal conflicts because they knew that would be the only way they would be destroyed.

Jesus simply pointed out that what they believed was false because it did not make sense.

3)   Help a critic see the error in their thinking

“We can have all the answers ready to give people who ask, but are they asking us? If not, perhaps we have not yet built the trust and relationship and respect that lead them to ask us for the hope we have. (Dan Kimball, Apologetics for a new generation, pg 40)

Jesus goal was not to win an argument His goal was to win a heart.

We all have critics and some of them nasty but when you deal with them do you just want to show them up or do you want them to change?

You want to help them to see their error and if they are on the defensive and you are combative then they will shut you out. If you have ever been yelled at by someone you know how true this is because you focus on getting away from them and not what they are saying.

We want people to discover the truth so we do that by showing them the errors of their thinking but we do it in a way they do not feel threatened. By doing this they are more likely to hear the truth and change their opinion.

How to help a Critic

A)  Through Relationships

We listen to those we like and we avoid those we hate.  Jesus was around the people, hanging out with the people and people wanted to be around Him. This opened the door for Him to continue and spread the truth amongst the lies being said about Him.

How many of you have avoided someone by going down another  aisle at the store or another hallway at school?

If you want your side to be heard then a relationship with those who have heard false statements about you will help with you sharing the truth. This does not mean a relationship can always be established but in some cases it can and should be if at all possible.

B)  With questions

One of the ways they say to get people thinking about what they believe is not to present your side but to question theirs. If  you get people to see that what they believe really does have errors then you can lead them to the truth.

First question:  if He cast out demons by the power of Satan than whom did their disciples cast out demons ?

Remember the way Jesus cast out demons was more authoritative and by His own power than all the rituals they did. So if Jesus having obvious more power than the others who cast out demons, than the question is where is your power coming from?

Critics will not always see their double standards in their criticisms and some simple questions can point those out.

So your first question to a critic could simply be: How would you have handled the situation? or Set up the program? or (Fill in your own question)

Second Question: How can someone enter the house of a strong man and steal his goods except he first bind the strong man?

Jesus was showing them that everything He did opposed Satan. He healed sickness and raised people from the dead which were a result of sin which was from Satan. Jesus is letting them know that His power is so much greater than Satan’s and He bound Satan up and plunders what he is doing.

Your second question could be to simply get them to think through the scenario you walked through. So you could ask: How could I have accomplished that with these resources?

Lies Christians sometimes believe

Luke 10:17-20 17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

As Christians we have the power through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit to overcome the enemy. One of the lies that is believed is that we just can’t overcome sin.

“I can’t forgive that person”  

Response:  Did God say it is impossible to  forgive them?

“I can’t overcome this sin area in my life”  

Response: When Jesus Died on the Cross did He not overcome that sin?

Satan has no control over a believer, he can only deceive them. It is not just people who do not believe in Christ that need to question some of their beliefs but Christians as well.

For Example:

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

This is about being tempted not about what life can throw at you.

Some believe “God will not give you more than you can handle” or “God must have known you can handle all of this or He would have never given it to you”

That is “Me Centered Christianity”

The whole message of Christianity is about God loving, God seeking, God saving, God redeeming, God justifying and God glorifying. Christianity has nothing to do about us.

Zechariah 4:6  Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Whether we are helping someone to further their relationship with God through Jesus or if we are helping someone come to Christ we have to ask questions so that they can examine their beliefs for themselves.

As far as critics are concerned our questions will go further than us defending the accusations that have been said about us.

C)   With Answers

1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

When dealing with critics we will have to give answers eventually but we have to realize that people can only take so much information at one time. If you plant a seed and then continue to over water it than  you might just kill the seed instead of letting it grow. The same thing is true when making you point to critics or if you are trying to share with someone about Christ. You might have good points but too many will not allow people to absorb them and process them. Just like a seed that is below the soil there is still work being done even though we cannot see it. The Holy Spirit will continue to work on someone long after we have finished our conversation with them. We need to pray for the person and for God to guide their thoughts and show them where they are wrong.

John 16:12 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.

Don’t you wish you could know what Jesus wanted to say?

Jesus knew that they could only handle so much information and that is a lesson we all need to learn as we deal with people and especially our critics.

D)  Make a critic decide

But if I through the Spirit of God cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

Our society does not want to commit to anything but somehow wants to live in this world of in-between as if that exists. Jesus holds the people at a deciding point by making them choose where He received His power from. At some point with our critics we will have to be ready to walk away if they do not believe the evidence that we have shown them.

He who is not with me is against me

There is no neutral ground and Jesus makes that clear. Critics want to claim that they are neutral in their observations but that is just not true. Everyone has a bias and so you can never say you are neutral. That does not mean you cannot hear both sides and come to a conclusion about what is true but it does mean that you will more than likely have to battle with your own prejudice.

Jesus Critics did not like Him because their way of life and their system of beliefs would have to change if they admitted He was the Son of David. It is the thing that keeps many from coming to Christ because they want Jesus to fit their image and when He doesn’t they either walk away or try and claim a neutral ground.

The rich young ruler walked away because Jesus made him choose between following Jesus or his material possessions. Everyone today has an opinion of who Jesus is and it was happening even when He was on the earth.

Luke 9:19-21 And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.” 20 Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

It all comes down to who you say Jesus is and you cannot stay neutral in this area. Everyone has to decide if Jesus is who He said He was or if they want to twist what is said about Him for their own benefit.

As far as the critics in your life it is difficult when lies that are said about you continue but the truth will eventually come out. Jesus allowed people to form their own opinion of Him after He presented the facts and if they chose not to believe Him than He let them. You will not please everyone and you will have to let people decide for themselves who they want to believe.

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