Today's Lectionary Text
Matthew 12:22-32Then they brought to him a demoniac who was blind and mute; and he cured him, so that the one who had been mute could speak and see. All the crowds were amazed and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons, that this fellow casts out the demons.” He knew what they were thinking and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand? If I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your own exorcists cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property, without first tying up the strong man? Then indeed the house can be plundered. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Criticism can be defined as the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes. There are two types of criticism, negative-destructive or positive-constructive criticism. We face criticism from all fronts during our lifetime. There are people who, even when they are not subject matter experts, feel a need to provide unsolicited critique of the work or actions of others. Often, these “critics” offer the worst time of criticism, much like condemnation and negativity which can be hurtful or does not add value to what is being criticized.
Constructive criticism on the other hand, is the type of criticism that helps a person grow or the situation improve. It adds value to the subject at hand. People who want to grow and improve often seek out feedback from others: “what could I have done better, differently?” These critics are often objective and focus on both sides of the coin: where you have done well and where you need to improve. This way, one has examples of how they might do things differently. An older school of thought subscribed to the notion of not telling people how good they are as they thought that that was not helpful. Children and young adults, especially, need to hear positive feedback as that helps generate creativity and give them something to feel good about in their work.
Projected criticism is an emotional, negative reaction to something one has said or done. If someone rants about how irresponsible you are, it is because something you did emotionally threatened them.
Projected criticism is simply a projection of a person’s psyche. It is the result of envy, insecurity, or anger. It says more about the person giving the feedback than one receiving it. Often such feedback is ignored for lack of value.
In our scriptural context the scenario correlates with the projected criticism syndrome. Our Lord Jesus was fully anointed, performing mighty miracles. This is evidenced by Matthew when he says, “Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?” (Matthew 12:22) This laid the foundation of projected, emotional criticism towards Jesus. They even associated him with “the prince of demons.” Jesus on the other hand, turned the tables on them and provided them with constructive feedback explaining that it was by the spirit of God that he cast out demons.
I see the scripture applying to our lives when we are faced with criticism, negative or positive. When we are confronted with negative criticism, we should not take it personally, rather be graceful and gracious. Take the opportunity to respond to the critics as a teachable moment, providing positive feedback just like Jesus did in educating the Pharisees about where his strength to cast demons came from. God’s power enabled Jesus to do mighty works. We are his servants in this great vineyard. We can manage criticism through the power of Holy Spirit. Stay positive and blessed.
-Rev. Ever Mudambanuki
United Church of Bennington-Soloman Yoked Parish
Prayer for Reflection
O God teach us to manage all forms of criticisms in our walk of faith. We pray for strength, courage, and wisdom in managing criticism in every aspect of our lives. Help to learn from Jesus’ strategy on managing his critics. Amen
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