How does a man keep going when he’s bearing the weight of other people’s negative opinions and judgments? How does he press on when much of what they say isn’t based in reality?
I don’t think I ever realized how important a question that is for a pastor or even a Christian to be able to answer. I think I always understood how important it was to listen to people’s rebukes when they were accurate. But I used to think that if you did what was right and were sincere and were teachable that was enough, in the sense that people wouldn’t have a problem with it, but I am learning that is really naive.
And you know maybe some people don’t struggle with this question as much because they aren’t really concerned about other people’s opinions in general, but for those of who are, how do you keep going if you are being criticized and misunderstood?
I’ve been encouraged recently by looking at a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. This is a man who knew condemnation. A beggar. Blind. When he went to ask Jesus for mercy, people told him to shut up. They didn’t even think he was worthy of asking Jesus for mercy.
But what did he do?
He didn’t listen. He boldly trusted that Jesus’ attitude was different. When they told him to be quiet, he cried out to Jesus all the more. He refused to let the voice’s of the crowd take his eyes off of Jesus. He believed in God’s mercy and kindness and God’s willingness to show mercy and kindness to a person like him no matter what other people were saying. He embraced it.
He knew his need. He knew Jesus’ attitude. And he kept on pursuing Him.
And Jesus’ commended him for it. “Go your way” Jesus says, “your faith has made you well.” Not just that you said the right words about me. Not just that you had the right information about me. That you trusted me. That you believed me. That you counted on me. That you relied on the fact I would be merciful to you. Your faith has made you well.
One of the greatest dangers of listening to other people’s condemnations is that it can keep you from doing the one thing God wants you to do: trust in His mercy.