Read Mark 9:14-41
We often miss what is right in front of our faces.
Allow me to summarize:
The disciples try to cast out a demon, and epically fail. Jesus saves the day.
The disciples argue about which one of them is the most awesome (“Who did the best job at not casting out that demon?”). Jesus gently corrects them.
The disciples (perhaps not so gently) correct a guy who is successfully casting out demons, on behalf of Jesus. Jesus gently corrects them.
Did you catch that?
The disciples are criticizing someone for casting out demons….immediately on the heels of their failure to cast out a demon.
How often do we find ourselves critiquing someone else’s marriage, ministry, work, or whatever, when what we actually feel is jealousy over their perceived success, popularity, happiness, or advancement?
If I can point to what is wrong with what they are doing, I can (at least I think I can) minimize my feeling of defeat—or envy—over their success.
“He may be casting out multiple demons when we failed at casting out one, but he is not technically ‘with us’ so we are still better than him, right Jesus?”
Note what John’s specific compliant was. He seemingly proudly declares to Jesus, “…we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.”
More often than not, critique is based on that other person’s failure to operate the way we think is right…the way we think it should done. Our way. Be cautious you do not find yourself on the side of rebuking someone for doing precisely what Jesus has asked them and equipped them to do, simply because that is not the way you would do it.
This self-defense robs us of so much. Much more than we realize.
- It robs me of contentment
- How can I possibly be happy with where I am when I am frustrated that I am not where you are—and I try to make myself feel better by justifying that you are not where you should be, rather than finding peace that I am exactly where I should be.
- It robs me of conviction
- Maybe she received the promotion, or he has a seemingly healthy marriage because they are working way harder. Maybe your Father is allowing you to see this so you would be corrected and encouraged to put in the effort you know you should have been putting in all along. Maybe your Father would prefer you spend less time comparing yourself to others and follow faithfully in the path that He has set for you. Just maybe.
- It robs me of celebration (technically the alliteration still works because it is a C…even though it is a soft one…)
- How can I possibly celebrate with you if I am seething with critique? How can I rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15) if my heart is so clouded by jealousy? When we see someone else having success in family, work, or especially ministry, we should rejoice with them! Celebrate with them, as I would want someone to celebrate with me in my minor victories.
Start with joy, thanking God for blessing that situation, then ask yourself, “what can I learn from this? How can I grow from this? What might my Father be teaching me in this?” Lastly, practice the art of thanking God for what He IS doing in you, rather than complaining about what He is not.
While the disciples bicker about which one of them is the most awesome (ironic on the heels of a very humiliating and very public failure) Jesus reminds them, “if anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
Let’s celebrate each other’s victories, learn from the correction & conviction they may provide, and find contentment in the path our Father has us on, so that we could cheerfully say:
“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” Luke 17:10