Monday, December 20, 2010

How are you to respond when you are harshly (& perhaps unjustly) judged?

by Patte Smith on Monday, November 15, 2010 at 1:00pm

Job with well-meaning (but flawed) religious friends

1. strong or vehement expression of disapproval

2. an official reprimand, as by a legislative body of one of its members.

–verb (used with object)
3. to criticize or reproach in a harsh or vehement manner

–verb (used without object)
4. to give censure, adverse criticism, disapproval, or blame.

1. acting or tending to act too hastily or without due consideration.

2. characterized by or showing too great haste or lack of consideration

Have you ever endured stinging, harsh criticism by others? Perhaps within the context of 'the church' or with another Christian? Maybe you have heard negative untruths or exaggerations about your pastor or your church.  It hurts, doesn't it? Sometimes you are so suprised by the censuring that you take the defensive. In his wonderful biblical treatise against censoriousness 'Cases And Directions Against Censoriousness And Unwarrantable Judging' Richard Baxter provides godly advice for those who suffer the humiliation and injustice of hasty censure. I have taken an excerpt from his article and posted it below. May you sense the help of the Holy Spirit when your pastor or church suffer maligning or when you walk through a painful experience or season of being the object of rash censure.

In His Grace,
Patte Smith

Cases And Directions Against Censoriousness And Unwarrantable Judging

Directions for those that are rashly censured
by Richard Baxter

Direct. 1

Remember when you are injured by censures, that God is now trying your humility, charity, and patience; and therefore be most studious to exercise and preserve these three.

1. Take heed lest pride make you disdainful to the censurer; a humble man can bear contempt; hard censures hurt men so far as they are proud.

2. Take heed lest imbecility add to your impatience, and concur with pride: cannot you bear greater things than these? Impatience will disclose that badness in yourselves, which will make you censured much more; and it will show you as weak in one respect as the censurers are in another.

3. Take heed lest their fault do not draw you to overlook or undervalue that serious godliness which is in many of the censorious; and that you do not presently judge them hypocrites or schismatics, and abate your charity to them, or incline to handle them more roughly than the tenderness of Christ alloweth you. Remember that in all ages it hath been thus: the church hath had peevish children within, as well as persecuting enemies without; insomuch as Paul, Rom. 14 giveth you the picture of these times, and giveth them this counsel, which from him I am giving you. The weak in knowledge were censorious, and judged the strong; the strong in knowledge were weak in charity, and contemned the weak: just as now one party saith, These are superstitious persons, and anti-Christian; the other saith, What giddy schismatics are these! but Paul chideth them both; one sort for censuring, and the other for despising them.

Direct. II. Take heed lest whilst you are impatient under their censures, you fall into the same sin yourselves. Do they censure you for differing ill some forms or ceremonies from them? Take heed lest you over-censure them for their censoriousness: if you censure them as hypocrites who censure you as superstitious, you condemn yourselves while you are condemning them. For why will not censuring too far, prove you hypocrites also, if it prove them such?

Direct. III. Remember that Christ beareth with their weakness, who is wronged by it more than you, and is more against it. He doth not quit his title to them for their frowardness, nor cease his love, nor turn every infant out of his family that will cry and wrangle, nor every patient out of his hospital that doth complain and groan; and we must imitate our Lord and love where he loveth, and pity where he pitieth, and be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful.

Direct. IV. Remember how amiable a thing the least degree of grace is, even when it is clouded and blotted with infirmities. It is the divine nature, and the image of God, and the seed of glory; and therefore as an infant hath the noble nature of a man, and in all his weakness is much more honourable than the best of brutes (so that it is death to kill an infant, but not a beast): so is the most infirm and froward true Christian more honourable and amiable than the most splendid infidel. Bear with them in love and honor to the image and interest of Christ.

Direct. V. Remember that you were once weak in grace yourselves; and if happy education under peaceable guides did not prevent it, it is two to one but you were yourselves censorious. Bear therefore with others as you bear with crying children, because you were once a child yourself. Not that the sin is ever the better, but you should be the more compassionate.

Direct. VI. Remember that your own strength and judgment is so great a mercy, that you should the easilier bear with a censorious tongue. The rich and noble can bear with the envious, remembering that it is happy to have that worth or felicity which men do envy. You suffer fools gladly, seeing you yourselves are wise. If you are in the right let losers talk.

Direct. VII. Remember that we shall be shortly together in heaven, where they will recant their censures, and you will easily forgive them, and perfectly love them. And will not the foresight of such a meeting cause you to bear with them, and forgive and love them now?

Direct. VIII. Remember how inconsiderable a thing it is as to your own interest, to be judged of man; and that you stand or fall to the judgment of the Lord, 1 Cor. 4:3,4. What are you the better or the worse for the thoughts or words of a man; when your salvation or damnation lieth upon God's judgment. It is too much hypocrisy, to be too much desirous of man's esteem and approbation, and too much troubled at his disesteem and censure, and not to be satisfied with the approbation of God. Read what is written against man-pleasing, part i.

Direct. IX. Make some advantage of other men's censures, for your own proficiency. If good men censure you, be not too quick in concluding that you are innocent, and justifying yourselves; but be suspicious of yourselves, lest they should prove the right, and examine yourselves with double diligence. If you find that you are clear in the point that you are censured for, suspect and examine lest some other sin hath provoked God to try you by these censures; and if you find not any other notable fault, let it make you the more watchful by way of prevention, seeing the eyes of God and men are on you; and it may he God's warning, to bid you take heed for the time to come. If you are thus brought to repentance, or to the more careful life, by occasion of men's censures, they will prove so great a benefit to you, that you may bear them the more easily.

Read Richard Baxter's entire article here:

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