The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains.—Philippians 1:17
It is one thing to be criticized by nonbelievers. I expect that. But what is troublesome to me are those times when fellow believers are the critics. Now, I think there is a place for critiquing one another. If I have said something that is theologically incorrect or have done something that isn’t right, and someone brings it to my attention, then I certainly want to change. I think we can learn a lot by listening to our critics.
But criticism from other Christians isn’t unique to our time. It also happened in the early church. Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi, “Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains” (Philippians 1:15–16). Paul’s critics were suggesting that he must be out of God’s will by being incarcerated. But Paul knew it was where he needed to be.
Here’s what I have learned. When you are doing a work of God, you are going to come under attack. Those attacks will come from the outside, but sometimes they will even come from the inside. Believers, as well as nonbelievers, can be used by the Devil. So what do I do? I take the advice of a great British preacher I heard years ago. He said, “Every leader has to have the mind of a scholar, the heart of a child, and the hide of rhinoceros.”
So I just press forward with what I believe God has called me to do. And instead of discouraging me and slowing me down, the criticism and opposition remind me that I am on the right track. These things can be a confirmation that we are doing the work of God.
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Used by permission from Harvest Ministries with Greg Laurie, PO Box 4000, Riverside, CA 92514.