Are you tired of criticism in your church or home? Perhaps you could take a page out of history and declare a Christmas truce with your biggest critics before you start a new year.
On Christmas 1914, a few German soldiers greeted their Allied enemies with “Merry Christmas” in their native tongues. Soldiers from both sides emerged from their trenches to trigger an unofficial cease-fire. On different parts of the western front, warriors shook hands and swapped gifts with their sworn enemies.
This “Christmas Truce” started with one soldier’s decision to stop shooting and start talking. If combat soldiers can temporarily bring World War 1 to a halt, why not us?
But you, why do you criticize your brother? Or you, why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before the tribunal of God…Therefore, let us no longer criticize one another. (Romans 14:10,13a)
Assuming you want to world peace to start in your home or church, I have a few suggestions that may help.
Start With Realistic Expectations
Criticism is a curse, not a gift, but most critics do not see it that way. He or she really thinks they are helping people (you) by constantly pointing out their (your) mistakes. Let me take some pressure off of you by reminding you that only God can change a critical heart.
As people of faith, most of us are optimistic that something we say will change their mind or heart. But the reality is we can’t even change our own hearts, much less a critic’s heart. Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies, not change them. I still believe in Christmas miracles, so let’s be bold and ask for one.
If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:18)
Crack Down On Criticism
Serial critics often do not respond well to…well, anything. So your decision to stay on the high road must be independent of your critic’s decisions. If your biggest opponent keeps on firing away, that does not give you the green light to reload and fire back.
It is important to stop talking when your critic stops listening. Kill the conversation before it kills you.
When there are many words, sin is unavoidable, but he one who controls his lips is wise. (Proverbs 10:19)
Initially respond politely, then just ignore them, especially on social media. A conversation is based on a two way communication. Once the conversation is over, it is time to turn off the mic because it sometimes doubles as a shovel.
Discipline In Love
Stopping a conversation doesn’t always work, so be prepared to biblically escalate the response, especially if your critic starts sowing discord in your church or home. Managing God’s household, or your own, well sometimes involves discipline, which is a form of discipleship.
As a parent, I knew that whatever I allowed in my home was condoned. Janet and I did not tolerate disrespect from our kids when they lived at home, which was of course tested. Do you think your faith-family should be any different?
Don’t criticize one another brothers. (James 4:11)
The original Christmas Truce was never to be duplicated because those further up the chain of command put a hard stop to it. Christmas is a great time to obey our Commander and initiate a truce in His honor.
We must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another. (Romans 14:19)
Ed. note: The featured image is “British and German Soldiers Arm-in-Arm Exchanging Headgear: A Christmas Truce between Opposing Trenches.” It appeared in the Illustrated London News, January 9, 1915.