It is not at all easy to hear unkind words from your critics, or to hear unkind things said of those you know or love. What should you do in such situations? I hesitate to offer any easy, pat answer. I have no such advice, and confess my suspicion of those who advise in such a way.
However, I offer to you the closing words of E. L. Jorgenson’s “Publisher’s Paragraphs” from the January 1934 Word and Work:
…while reserving the right to deal with error, we would not want to fall into the awful (though common) mistake of negative, critical, destructive teaching as our main stock in trade. This is an error into which those fall, almost unconsciously, who have no real constructive message from their own study–in order that they may still have somewhat to say. May the Lord deliver us from such a style; and from all unkindness of spirit toward all.
As to any personal reflections and aspersions directed our way, such scribes are to us, in this character, as if they did not exist. The editor of W. & W. [R. H. Boll, MIce] rarely reads their fulminations. His message could well be: “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.” (Neh 6:3.) If some have taken advantage of our policy of silence on these lines, we nourish no bitterness: in a very little while they shall answer to God. Meanwhile, and for this new year–
“Let us pray that grace may everywhere abound, … And a Christlike spirit everywhere be found.” Amen. E. L. J.
Were we to follow Bro. Jorgenson’s course, we would first of all search our own hearts: do we have something constructive to say? Is our spirit unkind? Do we nourish bitterness?
The temptation to return fire is strong, but is it Christlike? Even when we may rightfully speak truth, do we do it defensively? With anger? Spitefully?
Indeed, friends, we will encounter all manner of uncouth and unkind characters, from every quarter, but as we go about our lives, privilege the soft voice of Christ amid the din of competing self-interested voices. May we be slow to speak, slow to be angry, and when we speak–even when we are offended–let our speech be seasoned with salt, and grace, and peace.
As bro. Jorgenson indicates, R. H. Boll was too busy with what he considered a vital and constructive work to pay any attention to a noisy detractor. So, the second question we could ask ourselves is How busy are we with kingdom business? The need remains great; in the face of the deep need about us will we allow ourselves to be distracted by some crass remark? Will we be so easily deterred from the mission of the kingdom?
If he ever needs me, I’m sure I’ll be too willing to assist, but God has not sought my opinion or judgment. He has reserved judgment for himself; I cannot allow myself to be consumed by presuming prerogatives which are not mine. He has given me a mission focused on his kingdom. E.L.J. pursues mission and leaves judgment to God.
I find bro. Boll and bro. Jorgenson so very helpful. I never read WW without receiving a blessing. I hope you have as well. The quote above is from E. L. J. “Publisher’s Paragraphs”, Word and Work, January 1934, 1-2.