Intro: Dale Carnegie once said, “Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” I would like to bring some spiritual light to that last little sentence for Mr. Carnegie, “But it takes the mercy and character of Jesus and the Spirit’s fruit of self-control to be understanding and forgiving!” We need the strength of Christ to deal with controlling critics.
Jesus knew all about dealing with critics; he was frequently dogged by the Pharisees—religious leaders. They did not like his spiritual freedom, his voice of authority, nor his ability to put them in their place. Jesus frequently called these leaders out for their hypocrisy. It was their God-given place to lovingly guide the people into His restoration and wholeness, but they chose to exalt the law and their traditions ahead of human need.
In our passage today, Jesus is dealing once again with religious critics. It is the Sabbath and a man with a shriveled hand arrives to the synagogue. The Pharisees anticipate that Jesus will heal and restore this man. However, they care more about their laws than they do about this man’s suffering. Jesus wants to save the man and make him whole; so, he looks at the Pharisees, pauses to get their full attention, and performs a miracle. Are they happy for this man’s wholeness? Nope…they are furious because they realized Jesus is able to see the hatred that is hiding in their hearts.
Luke 6:6-11 NLT Jesus Heals on the Sabbath
6 On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. 7 The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.
8 But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. 9 Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?”
10 He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! 11 At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for helping us, in Christ, put on compassion and mercy. The world will never see things according to the standard of your love, but as your children of faith we pray for hearts that care for people who are struggling, broken, and alone in their suffering. We desire to bring them to you so they may experience restoration and wholeness. Help believers shrug off every criticism that we receive for doing what is right in your eyes. Give us grace to run the race of faith in love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.