Summary: This sermon deals with the criticism we may face from others. It’s not a reason for us to give up.
Help, Somebody Is Criticizing Me.
Is there anybody here who has ever been criticized before? Criticism has the power to make us remember things we would just as soon forget. In my twelve years of high school, four years of college, one year of bible school, three years of seminary, three years of law school and two years of a Dr. of ministry program, I must have written hundreds of papers. Yet the paper I remember best is the one I did my freshman year at Hamilton College in my first religion course.
The paper was on the parable of the vineyard, in which Jesus went out and hired workers at different times of the day to work in his fields. At the end of the night, Jesus paid them all the same. I still dream about the research I did on that paper. That paper was the final paper for the course. It was worth 1/3 of my grade.
I can still remember picking it up, and looking at my grade. I got a red D- with a circle around it on the paper. The professor wrote, “this paper is awful. If it were not for your intelligence, I would have given you an F” It did not take me long to realize my paper had been severely criticized and I felt as though I had been criticized in the process.
Now why is it that I remember those comments on that particular paper more than all the other comments that have been written since then or before then. There is something about criticism that can pour deep into our souls, and we can let it get next to us to the point of paralyzing our future.
Now here I am telling people all over campus, “God has called me into the ministry”, and I almost flunk the first course I have dealing with the Bible in college. Just because you receive some criticism or a negative evaluation does not mean God has changed his mind about using you.
In our Old Testament reading, we met a guy by the name of Eliab. Some of you have already forgotten his name. But Eliab, was the first born son of a man named Jesse, who had eight boys. Eliab was tall and good looking. The pride of the family. God sent Samuel to Jesse’s house, to choose the next king of Israel.
The moment Samuel laid eyes on Eliab, he said to himself, “I see right now why God sent me here. It doesn’t take but one look to know this is the man God would choose. Why this is the man that anyone in his right mind would choose.” Samuel was ready to take out the oil and anoint Eliab, without even a discussion with God.
But God said, “don’t look at his height, or how handsome he is, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Samuel had all seven of Jesse’s sons pass by, and not a single one was chosen by the Lord.
Samuel asked Jesse, “are you sure these are all your sons? Jesse, says, “I have one more, the youngest, but I know you don’t want him. He could not possibly be the one you’ve chosen. His name is David, and he’s with the sheep.” Samuel said, “we will not eat until someone brings him in.” The moment David walked in, the Lord said, “rise and anoint him, he is the one.”
Now how do you think David’s older brothers felt about this. Were they glad that Samuel had anointed someone in their family? Were they jealous Samuel had not anointed them? It’s obvious that David was at the bottom of the ladder in their eyes. Nobody thought much of him. His father had not shown him any favoritism. All he was good for was taking care of the sheep in the desert.
Well some time passed and three of David’s brothers were drafted into the army. The Israelites were about to fight the Philistine armies. But the Philistines said “Look, instead of us killing each other off, why don’t you chose a man to fight our champion warrior. If your boy wins, then we will serve you. If our boy wins, then you will serve us.” It seemed like a good deal at the time. The only problem was that the Philistine boy, Goliath could make Shaquille O’Neal look short in that he stood over nine feet tall.
Nobody wanted to fight Goliath. The King had promised a huge financial reward, his daughter in marriage, and his father’s house would be free from taxes forever for anyone who would fight Goliath. Jesse wanted to send some food to his oldest three sons and to their commander. He also wanted to know how the war was going and to make sure his sons were okay. For some reason, he chose David to go to the battlefield. Maybe he thought if David was killed, it would not be that much of a loss compared to this other four sons still at home.