I Corinthians 9:13

Steve Viars February 18, 1992 1 Corinthians 9:13

- tonight we're continuing our study of I Cor. 9
- let me remind you again of the chart we used to illustrate
  the way these verses fit into the overall context
- (see if the folks can fill in the blanks)

- inner box - (verses 4-14) - How to treat Christian servants
    financially)
- outer box (chaps 8-10) - Christian liberty
- (overshadowing cloud - verses 1-3) - questioning Paul's
    apostleship

- I'd like to take our time tonight and talk about this
  "overshadowing cloud" of people questioning Paul's
   apostleship because I think there are very important
   points we need to make

- Lord willing, on S. night, we'll move in and talk about how
  Paul takes what we discussed last week and applies it to
  the subject of Christian liberty
- but tonight, let's concentrate on verses 1-3
- READ 1-3

- Now, in light of these verses, let's think about this
  question:
    - why would the subject of Paul's apostleship come up in
      a discussion of how a church treats full-time Christian
      servants financially (and what can we learn from the
      fact that it did come up)

- in order to answer that question, we've got to "tip-our-
  hand" a little bit on what we'll be talking about S. night

- the argument of this chapter is this

- Paul has laid out the church's responsibilities in the
  way we treat full time Christian servants
- but what he's going to say in the verses we'll study S.
   night is: -"but, I have chosen to exercise my freedom not
   to accept those funds" (that’s how it fits in with
   Christian liberty)

- that's fine and good - but, there were some folks in the
   church at Corinth who were saying, "the fact that Paul
   won't take a salary proves he's not really an apostle"

- that’s the subject we're talking about tonight - "learning
   to handle criticism God's way"
- criticism - "the act of finding fault, censure,
   disapproval"
    - we'll talk later about justified criticism and
      unjustified criticism

- but right now we want to point out - that's what this
   broader circle "set up" by verses 1-3 is all about
- Paul's being criticized here

 

- now, all through the message, we'll being "weaving in"
  several different avenues of application concerning
  criticism
     - times someone criticizes you personally about
         something to your face
     - times someone criticizes you behind your back
     - times you hear (or overhear) criticism about a friend,
       loved one, your church

   - but the question is - in each of these situations, how
      does the Lord want us to respond

I. It's Going To Come

    - these verses ought to remind us that criticism, in the
      various forms, is going to come
    - we have to be prepared to respond biblically because
      it's only a matter of time before we're going to be
      called upon to respond to one of these kinds of
      situations in a way that pleases the Lord
    - how do we know that?

    A. Paul faced it

        - here's the great church planter
        - here's the greatest missionary that every lived
        - here's the man that was miraculously saved on the
           Damascus road
        - ...man that was used of God to write a significant
            portion of the New Testament
        - the Apostle Paul - not a perfect man, but surely
          someone greatly used by the Lord
             - and here he is - being criticized
             - not in some shallow, superficial way, either

        - these people are undermining his entire ministry
        - they're saying he's a Charlaton, fake, imposter

        - they couldn't attack Paul much worse than they're
           doing

        - the point is - if a man like Paul wasn't immune to
          this problem, you and I aren't either

    B. John

       - John faced the same thing
       - In fact, he named a man like this by name in the
         book of III John.
       - INPUT - do you remember that man's name? (Diotrophes
           - "who loves to have the "pre-eminence."
           - went around the church criticizing John for
             showing hospitality to traveling missionaries
             and other Christians

       - here's the man we know as the "apostle of love"
       - he could rightly refer to himself as "the disciple
          that Jesus loved" and everybody knew who he was
          talking about

        - and even at the end of his life and the end of his
          ministry, here's a guy running around the church,
          and in John's words:
             "prating against us with malicious words, and
              not content with that, neither doth he himself
              receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that
              would, and casteth them out of the church."

- the apostle Paul faced it, the apostle John faced

    C. Our Lord faced it

        - In Matthew 12, the Lord is healing people on the
          Sabbath day

        - do you remember what the Pharisees said about Him
           in that chapter?
        - (Matt. 12:24 - This man casts out demons only by
           Beelzebul the ruler of the demons.)

        - so people criticized the apostle Paul, the apostle
          John, even our Lord

        - criticism is going to come!

        - one of the points we need to make about that is:
           - we ought not to be shocked or blown out of the
              water when that happens

           - some are not able to handle these kinds of
             situations in a way that pleases the Lord
             because they're not at all prepared
           - they haven't considered the fact that criticism
             will come

           - so when it's directed at them - they're in a
             state of shock - they're not at all prepared to
             handle it biblically
           - or when they hear it about someone else -
             they're shocked - and often times just freeze -
             not knowing what the Lord would have them to do

- and we're saying - there's something wrong if criticism
   shocks us
- cf. the person who looks in the mirror and screams (ah!
    there's a nose on my face!)

- so, criticism is going to come
- now what can we do to handle it?
- one question we need to ask pretty quickly is:

II. Ask, Should I Have Heard That?

    INPUT - what determines whether or not I should listen to
       criticism?

    A. The determining factor

        - If the criticism is about me or if I am part of the
           solution


- INPUT - if the criticism is not about me, what should I do?

    A. If not...

        Whoaa...

        illus - Pastor Dutton
           - talks loud
           - counseling rooms have heavy walls and doors, but
              when someone gets really loud, you can hear
              them
           - Monday night - Whoaa!
           - looked at my counselee, laughed
           - said - "if you think its bad in here, how would
              you like to be in there with that nut?"

- there are times when this can't be done
-
  1) - I know of a situation where a man was innocently
       eating his lunch in a restaurant
       --some people at another table were talking loudly
         about a church they were upset with
       - couldn't help but overhearing
       - a moment later -he realized they were talking about
          his church

  2) sometimes, the person making the criticism has had it
     printed somewhere

  3) at other times - they might just be saying it publicly
     for everyone to hear


    - so ideally, if we're not part of the solution, we ought
      to stop the conversation
    - otherwise it's gossip

    - in those situations where we just mentioned, where
      perhaps you couldn't help but overhear for whatever
      reason

    - a great question to ask is:

        - Have you talked to that person directly and
          individually about the area you're criticizing them
          about?
        - Do you what the answer to that question is in the
          vast majority of cases?

           - no!

           - when that happens - you can mark two things down

             1) you're talking to an ungodly person.
                 - regardless of how spiritual they "couch"
                   it
                 - regardless of what else they've said or
                   done
                 - they're behaving in an ungodly fashion
                   because they're violating what passages
                   like Matt. 18:15 - because we're always
                   supposed to go privately and speak to a
                   person directly
         2) anything they've said ought to be considered
            unreliable.

            - just because someone says something doesn't
              make it so.
            - we ought not to be the kind of people who
              believe everything we hear
            - when that person is communicating in an
              unbiblical method, you can assume that the
              content of that conversation is suspect as well

    B. If so

       - listen, and follow the principles below

III. Determine Whether It's Justified or Unjustified

    - natural question here is - how do I know?

    - a good rule of thumb is - If it's about me, I need to
      assume it's at least partially true until I have facts
      to prove otherwise
    - if it's about someone else, I need to assume it's false
      unless I have facts to prove otherwise

    - INPUT - can you think of a Bible passage that goes
        along with each "half" of that statement
          Why, if its about me, do I need to assume its at
            least partially true until I've carefully thought
            it through?  (learner - I John 1, Matt. 7:3)

          Why, if its about someone else (and I overhear it)
           should I assume it's false unless I have clear
           facts?  (I Cor.  13 - love gives the benefit of
           the doubt)

- (repeat point) clearly, in the Bible, there's examples of
    each type

    INPUT - can you think of a biblical example of justified
        criticism?

    A. Justified

       (when its justified, it's probably best to refer to
         that as confrontation - where someone loves a person
         enough to speak to them about an area of sinfulness)

        1. Paul to Peter

            Gal. 2:11 - "But when Peter was come to Antioch,
              I withstood him to the face, because he was to
              be blamed."

        2. Nathan to David

            II Sam. 12:7 - "Thou art the man"


    INPUT - when the criticism is directed at you and its
      justified, what do you and I need to do?  (confess,
      repent, thank the Lord for sending the person, thank
      the person)

    INPUT - what if the person comes in a less than perfect
       way - does that change the answers any?

- perhaps a good question to ask here is - do you handle
     justified confrontation in a way that pleases the Lord?

    - Prov. 13:1 - A wise son heareth his father's
        instruction, but a scorner heareth not rebuke
    - 15:5 - A fool despiseth his father's instruction, but
        he that regardeth reproof is prudent

- now that's justified criticism

- let's talk about unjustified

    B. Unjustified

        - all three examples we mentioned earlier in the
          message are cases of unjustified criticism

    1. biblical examples

        a. Paul

           - Acts 1:21-22 says that an apostle had to be a
               person who had walked with the Lord, had seen
               the resurrected Lord
           - II Cor. 12:12 adds that an apostle's ministry
              had to be verified by signs and miracles
           - Paul met those qualifications

           - so the criticism that he wasn't an apostle was
             unjustified

        b. John

            III John - verse 11 - "follow not that which is
              evil...He that doeth good is of God, but he
              that doeth evil hath not seen God."

        c. Our Lord

           - of course it goes without saying that the
             Pharisee's criticism of our Lord was unjustified
           - Heb. 4:15 - "...was in all points tempted like
                as we are, yet without sin."

- so clearly there are a number of examples in the Bible of
  unjust criticism
- what steps do you take in those cases?

        2. what steps should be taken?

            - the exact answer to that depends on the
              situation:

            a. if it's about you
                1) look for the "nugget" of truth

                   Matt. 7:3 - tells us to be log inspectors

                   - often times when someone is criticizing
                     us, even if its overstated or said in an
                     unloving way
                       - often there's some "nuggets" of
                         truth we need to focus on

                2) if not, see IV B

                   - if there's absolutely no nugget, if that
                     criticism is totally unfounded, we'll
                     talk about what steps to take from there
                     under point 4

            b. if it's about someone else

                1) again - don't be shocked

         - if its an individual or church that believes the
           Bible - there are going to be a few folks out
           there who don't like you

          - that doesn't happen, but there are times when
            folks from the community or even someone from the
            church gets upset about a stand we've taken on
            the Scripture

         - we're not issues oriented - we don't go around
           looking for fights
             - but when we come up on the subject of
               homosexuality, we're going to preach and teach
               what the Bible has to say about that
             - when the Bible discusses a topic related to
               abortion - we're going to talk about it
             - when the Bible talks about immorality or
               sexual sin, you would want us to talk about it
               as forcefully as the Bible does

         - point is - over a period of time - a few folks
             might get upset - and they may "vent" that anger
             in any number of unbiblical, unjustified,
             critical modes

                2) The Lord hates this sin.

                    Prov. 6:16-19 gives a list of seven
                      things the Lord hates.
                  - the last one in the list is this one:
                  - the person that sows discord among the
                    brethren.
                  - that’s what the people attacking Paul were
                    doing.

 

 

                3) Remember, these folks often twist or
                   distort the facts

                 - that’s what's happening in these verses
                 - Paul is exercising his right to not take a
                   salary and these folks are so divisive
                   that they're going to actually try to use
                   it against him.

                4) if possible, get the "criticizer" together
                   with the "criticizee."

                   - of course, if this is in the context of
                     a local church where both folks are
                     members-then they would have to get
                     together and work matters out.
                   - but even if the criticizer isn't a
                     member of the church - it would be great
                     if that person would personally contact
                     the one they're criticizing and try to
                     talk things out


- two other passages that are important to bring in at this
  point are Prov. 26:4 and Prov. 26:5

- READ

- the point is:

IV. Determine If This Is A Matter The Lord Wants "Answered"

    - in situations where church members are involved, they
      have to communicate and get things solved
    - but in situations where someone from outside the church
      is making the criticism, there are biblical examples
      where the person speaks up and others where the person
      holds their tongue

    A. Sometimes, its best to say nothing

        Isa 53:7 - He was oppressed, and He was afflicted,
           yet He opened not his mouth.

        cf. Prov. 26:4

    B. At others times, an answer is necessary and helpful

        I Cor. 9:4

        cf. Prov. 26:5

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987.  He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and they have three children. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church.  He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of Vision of Hope and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

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