Joy in the Face of Unfair Criticism

Joy in the Face of Unfair Criticism

What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.
–Philippians 1:18

A positive purpose also has the power to give you joy in the face of unfair criticism. When your purpose in life is God-centered, you’ll be amazed at how little you care about what other people think or say about you.

That was true of Paul. When Paul was in prison in Rome, he knew some people were preaching Christ like they never had. But Paul also realized others who were preaching Christ did not have a pure motive. In Philippians 1:15-17, he said, “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.”

Before Paul arrived in Rome, there was a group of Christians there who thought they were doing fine. Then all of a sudden, this guy named Paul came on the scene. He got all the attention, and some church leaders were jealous. So they would say things like, “If Paul were really appointed by God, why is he in prison?” And they started preaching Christ vigorously, trying to win more converts to outdo the apostle Paul.

What was Paul’s attitude toward that? Was he jealous or bitter about his mistreatment? Look at verse 18: “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice.” Paul was saying, “As long as Jesus Christ is being proclaimed, I don’t care what their motives are. My life purpose is being served. People are coming to Christ.”

Now, Paul was not saying as long as somebody talks about Jesus, it doesn’t matter what they teach. In Galatians 1:8, Paul made it clear that doctrine does make a difference. But the people Paul was talking about in Philippians 1 were not teaching an impure gospel. Instead, they were teaching the true gospel with impure motives. So Paul was saying, “As long as they are teaching the truth, even if it’s to get under my skin, I don’t care. Let God deal with them for that. As long as Christ is being proclaimed, I rejoice.”

Make a note of this: when you have a positive purpose, you don’t really care about unfair criticism as long as Jesus is being glorified. You understand that your purpose in life is to spread the gospel and glorify God. That takes the spotlight off you and puts it back where it belongs–on Jesus Christ.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Power of a Positive Purpose” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.