A short reading and prayers for today
When Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers criticised him.“You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said.
Acts 11:2-3 NLT
Criticism always stings. It must have been so hard for Peter to face a barrage of criticism when he returned home to Jerusalem. God had given him a vision and opened his eyes to a new world in which God was wanting to welcome everyone to himself, whether or not they were Jews. This turned all Peter’s previous thinking on its head and this discovery clearly excited him. How discouraging it must have been to face up to his critics, but we can learn a lot from the way that he did so.
He would have fully understood where his critics were coming from because, before his recent revelation, he would have been saying exactly the same things. So he patiently went through his testimony. He told them about the remarkable vision and the way in which the Gentile visitors from Caesarea had come and received the gift of salvation. Peter’s hearers in Jerusalem were silenced by his story and offered no further objections. Instead, they praised God and acknowledged that he was now willing to accept even the Gentiles.
It’s never pleasant being criticised but the best response is to do exactly what Peter did. He gave a calm and thoughtful account of his actions, explaining how he had come to his conclusion. The worst response is to be defensive and, worst of all, to be rude. When you share your story, your hearers won’t necessarily be persuaded, but if you have shared it carefully and calmly it will give a basis for further conversation. We all need to pray for the wisdom, strength, and grace to handle all criticisms. In that way, God is honoured and people are built up.
What have you learnt from this story about the way in which you could handle criticism in the future?
Lord help me to learn from Paul’s example. Please give me your wisdom so that I may always respond to criticism with love, thoughtfulness, and grace. Amen
God of mercy and healing, you who hear the cries of those in need, receive the petitions of your people that all who are troubled may know peace, comfort, and courage. Life-giving God, heal our lives, that we may acknowledge your wonderful deeds and offer you thanks from generation to generation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
God of salvation, who sent your Son to seek out and save what is lost, hear our prayers on behalf of those who are lost in our day, receiving these petitions and thanksgivings with your unending compassion. Amen