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JFH Devotionals by J.M. Farro

An Invitation to Criticism

"For I endure scorn for Your sake, and shame covers my face. I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my own mother's sons; for zeal for Your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult You fall on me." - Psalm 69:7-9 NIV

For me, these are some of the saddest verses in Scripture. The Bible says that God called David a man after His own heart. (Acts 13:22) Yet many of the verses penned by this warrior-king reveal that he was often insulted and rejected because of his passion for God, even by his own family and friends. Second Samuel 6 (NIV) records that when David brought the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, he "danced before the Lord with all his might," in celebration. (v.14) It says that when his wife, Michal, saw David's unrestrained enthusiasm for the Lord, she "despised him in her heart." (v.16) When she criticized her husband for his public display of emotion, not only did David not apologize for it, but he informed her that he would become "even more undignified than this" in honor of the Lord. (v.22) The last verse in the chapter reveals that it is Michal, not David, who is judged by God, as she remains childless for the rest of her life.

In the Gospel of John, we see Jesus applying to Himself the same Psalm 69 phrase used by David - "zeal for Your house consumes me," - as He rids the temple of moneychangers. (John 2:17 NIV) When we display a Holy Spirit-inspired passion - or "zeal" - for God, we are modeling the kind of devotion that the Son of God and David demonstrated. And just as they were often insulted and rejected, we will be, too. In Matthew 5:11-12 (MSG), Jesus tells us how to react in these times: "Count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit Me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens - give a cheer, even! - for though they don't like it, I do! And all heaven applauds." We can take comfort in the fact that, even if our devotion invites negative responses from others, it delights the heart of God. And our rewards will come from Him.

In Romans 12:11 (NIV), Paul urges us, "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Don't ever be ashamed because you serve God with enthusiasm. Lukewarm servanthood is an insult to the Lord, and it will hinder you from fulfilling your God-given purpose and potential. Isaiah 51:7-8 (NIV) says: "Hear Me, you who know what is right, you people who have My law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults. For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool." Our God is merciful, but He is also committed to His servants. When you demonstrate loyalty in the face of criticism and complaint, He will fight your battles for you, and in the end, you will come out on top. Forgive and pray for the people who insult you, then let God deal with them. Rest in this promise from the Lord today - "Be happy if you are cursed and insulted for being a Christian, for when that happens the Spirit of God will come upon you with great glory"! (1 Peter 4:14 TLB)

Prayer: Lord, teach me to serve You with a Spirit-led passion. When I'm criticized because of it, comfort me and help me to respond with a Christlike attitude. Guard me from feeling ashamed for displaying a holy zeal for You. May my devotion always invite applause from heaven!

- J. M. Farro


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