October 27, 2020

Pastoral Nuggets: Criticism Without Compassion

The Pharisees derived 611 Old Testament Laws from the Talmud.

When asked which of these was the greatest, Jesus promptly boiled all those laws down to just two.

(Matthew 22:37-40KJV) “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

If we are not careful, we will make the same mistake the Pharisees made. We will become so legalistic/critical that we miss the main thing! (Love!)

You see, the greatest responsibly of the Christian is – to Love!  But sadly, it is easier to condemn than it is to love!

Benjamin Disraeli, who served twice as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, stated, “It is easier to be critical than to be correct.”  He also stated, “We are all born for love.  It is the principle of existence, and its only end.”

In the Bible we find that Jesus, with the possible exception of Him driving the Moneychangers from the temple, was always compassionate before He was critical! May I be honest with you today? I STRUGGLE WITH THIS ONE! Yes, there is a time to be critical.

But as Galatians 6:1(KJV) teaches us, our criticism must be tempered with compassion. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

This does not come easy for me!

Luke 15 contains the stories of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son. (Prodigal)

But would it surprise you if I told you that neither of these stories are the main focus of Luke 15? Luke 15 is Jesus’ response to a criticism that was leveled against him by the Scribes and Pharisees in verse 2.

“And the Pharisees and Scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.”

And the thrust of what Jesus is teaching is pointed toward the Elder Prodigal Son, who represents the Scribes and Pharisees. (And yes, there were two Prodigal Sons! The Bible says a certain man had “two” sons and he divided among “them” his living.  Both got their inheritance. One chose to go into a far country and waste his inheritance on riotous living; the other stayed home, but was just as prodigal!)

The Elder Prodigal Son is a text book example of a person possessed with a Spirit of Criticism Without Compassion!

In Luke 15: 25-32 we can examine his life and find seven indicators of such a person:

1. Work and career supersede compassion and restoration. Luke 15:25(a) “Now his elder son was in the field…”  Where was his daddy?  He was busy looking for his lost son!  The Elder Son showed greater concern for his career and livelihood than his lost brother. 

2. Joy was a cause for concern!  He was so miserable that he became concerned when he heard music and dancing (joy) coming from his house! 

3. He gathered his information from the wrong source.  He asked the servant what was happening!  He should have asked his father. 

4. He Allowed his anger to control him. Vs. 28(a) “And he was angry, and would not go in …”  Emotions, which is what anger is, has an IQ of zero! 

5. His actions caused his father to have to leave the celebration.  He rained on his daddy’s parade.  He made sure everybody was just as miserable as him. 

6. Jealousy is always the byproduct of criticism without compassion.  He complained that he had never been given a party! 

7. He forced his dad to make a decision he should not have to make.

Paraphrasing, dad came outside to him while he was having his temper tantrum. I believe his dad told him that what he did for his youngest son – was right, that the party was inside the house, and if he wanted to attend, he could come inside and do so … but he was not bringing the party outside to him!

Sadly, the Bible gives no indication that he ever went inside. He stayed outside! This is the fate for anybody who chooses to exercise criticism without compassion. They miss the party!  “And he was angry, and would not go in …”

Oh, my!  Let us not be guilty of criticizing without compassion!

Brother Aaron

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