Monday, December 29, 2008
Let's make 2009 a year that shines! One of the ways we can do that is to let criticism bounce off us and not to take it personally if we receive it. Another way is to make sure we are not the one doing the criticizing. There is never any value in comparing ourselves to others. When we do that, we are being unloving to ourselves and setting the other person up as our enemy. We can admire their abilities and set them up as a role model, but at the same time, we must be careful about drawing comparisons or judging ourselves or the other person. God gave us all unique abilities and we need support others in their abilities as well as appreciate and enhance our own. I want to be inspired by other people's success instead of being jealous. Since God did something marvelous for them, He can surely do it for me too. In the Old Testament people who criticized others were called "slingers" because when an enemy would attack a city, the first thing they did is to sling stones into the city well to clog it up so the people would have to leave the safety of their city walls. Joel Osteen says that we have a well inside us of joy, peace, and victory, and we must not let the slingers clog up our wells. He writes, "Perhaps somebody speaks derogatorily about you, but instead of letting it go, you dwell on it, growing more and more upset." He goes on to say that before long, we think about getting even and paying them back. He says that instead of dwelling on the criticism, we need to make it a priority to keep our well pure. We must not sink to the level of retaliation or defensiveness. In order to defeat a slinger, we need to shake it off and keep moving forward. Keep our eyes on God. Matthew 10:14 says, "When you go into a town, whoever will not receive and welcome your message, when you leave that place, shake the dust off of your feet." We won't let anyone steal our joy if we stay on the high road and let God vindicate us. We don't need to be a people pleaser. It's important to accept the fact that not everyone is going to like us, and we certainly cannot make everyone happy. There is tremendous freedom in releasing ourselves as the warden of the imprisoning thought that we must make everyone happy. Instead, this new year let's put our energy into running our own race. We can be tough on the outside but stay tender on the inside. Remember that Psalms 139:14 says, "I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Your works are wonderful. I know that full well." When God endorses us with those kinds of words, what need have we of any other endorsement? Joel says, "Don't let unwarranted criticism create stress in your life. Stay focused on what God has in store for you."