How Christians Can Overcome Criticism — James 3

All Christians are Bible teachers and serve as examples for others. As Christians, we all teach by our words and our actions. We teach what is right or we teach what is wrong. We teach what is true or we teach what is false. We show how Christians should live or we show how Christians should not live by the way we behave.

It is a fact that Christians and those who claim to be Christians are judged more harshly than others. Those who do not claim to be Christians are not expected by the world to live any differently from the way the worldly live; therefore, they face less criticism.

If we claim to be Christians, but do not follow Jesus Christ or make an effort to obey Christ’s teachings in the Bible, we are still teaching by what we say and do and we will be judged more strictly by others and by Jesus. If we claim to be Christians and make every effort to follow Christ and obey Christ’s commands in the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will still be judged more strictly by others, but not by Jesus. Therefore, James advised: “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1).

As Christians, we can rejoice that God has already judged us and will judge us. The judgments of the worldly against us have no eternal value. Because God loves us, Jesus Christ died on the cross for us; therefore, if we are condemned by the worldly, when God judges us He will say of us “Not guilty.” John wrote: "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18).

So, remembering all this, how can we as Christians overcome criticism? In his letter, James gives us the answer: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom” (James 3:13).

1. As Christians, prayerful Bible study will make us more wise and understanding; since "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise" (Psalms 111:10). Wise and understanding teachers love to teach their students the Bible when they are seeking to become wise and understanding from their prayerful Bible study and humble, teachable spirit.

2. As Christians, whether we are judged by others or not, because we are wise and understanding to an increasing degree, we will show it by our good life. We will never be perfect in word and deed in this life, but we can show forth a good life according to Jesus' teachings by our words and behavior; furthermore, we will know the difference and the improvements that Jesus Christ has made in the way we think, speak, and act.

3. As Christians, we will live according to the wisdom from above. James wrote: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (James 3:17). Because we will truly know ourselves, and in some sense see ourselves as God sees us, we will act and speak with humility before God and others.

As Christians, we will still be criticized for what we believe, how we act, and what we expect from God in the future, but by following Jesus and His teachings through the Letter of James and the other books of the Bible, we will overcome criticism and rejoice in the spiritual victories Jesus gives us within. Teachers and students alike can humbly pray for one another rather than proudly criticize one another as the world criticizes those who are Christians.

Bible study and prayer help us continue to grow spiritually and live more effectively as Christians. In addition to the International Bible Lessons Commentary and the International Bible Lessons Forum, you will find the International Prayer Lessons helpful as we study together The Believer’s Secret of the Abiding Presence by Andrew Murray and Brother Lawrence using the FREE audio book chapter-by-chapter.

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May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

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