Why I hesitate to criticize other ministers

February 22nd, 2011 · by Tom Stuart · Communication, Relationships

“Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.” Psalm 105:15 (NIV)

Jesus warned us that we should not judge by external appearances. (John 7:24)  That is very good advice when it comes to forming opinions about and criticizing those who purport to serve Him, especially ministers.  For one thing God chooses some very unusual people to represent Him.  Have you noticed?  If not, look in the mirror, you may be one of them.  

He makes no apologies about choosing “the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.”  In fact He delights to use lowly and even despised people so that no one may boast before Him. (1 Corinthians 1:27-19)  The genius in all of this is that we cannot put God in box when it comes to profiling His representatives.  It forces us to recognize that they are but mere clay vessels through whom His redemptive truth and grace are flowing.

That explains to me why some of the individuals He chose as prophets and the things He asked them to do seemed so weird.  Consider Elisha cursing the youth who were ridiculing his baldness, Ezekiel lying on his side for over two years and Hosea marrying a prostitute. (2 Kings 2:23-24, Ezekiel 4:4-8 & Hosea 1:2)

This reality should give all of us pause when it comes to criticizing those who minister on God’s behalf, whether it’s a prophet, an evangelist, pastor or teacher.  We need to be careful in our judgments lest we find ourselves not just opposing an individual, but God Himself.  Paul gives us some very practical advice in this regard. “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls.” (Romans 14:4)

God used one of my first encounters with a prophet to indelibly imprint this truth in my soul.  It was before I entered into the ministry.  Susan and I were attending a Wednesday night church service.  Our pastor had asked an acquaintance of his, a man who just happened to be traveling through town to be the guest speaker. 

You guessed it, the man messed with my preconceptions of how God works and whom He chooses.  To this day I can see the man wandering about the sanctuary in stocking feet, his eyes turned toward heaven, explaining to us how God had called him to travel the borders of the United States to pray and prophecy over the nation.  On our drive home I made Susan uncomfortable with my critical attitude, as I made fun of the man’s unusual mannerisms and strangeness of his message.  

That night, out of a sound sleep, I suddenly woke up with a start in a cold sweat.  The fear of God had come into the room and these words came pulsating out of my pounding heart “Touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm.”  I knew what God was saying, make no mistake about it. I scrambled out of bed, fell to my knees and asked God to forgive me for judging His servant.  I remember that encounter with God like it was yesterday. 

It taught me a valuable lesson.  Spiritual authority is not something to be trifled with.  And spiritual authority is often not readily recognizable.  Therefore be very careful about passing judgment on someone or something as not being from God.  Our puny minds often do not comprehend the myriad of ways God chooses to minister.  And who knows, we could end up like the disciples who were upset with the man who was driving out demons in Jesus name but wasn’t in their group.  Jesus had to rebuke them.

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.”  (Mark 9:39-40)

That verse is worth pondering.  It’s no secret that the Body of Christ is plagued by internal criticism.  Genuine Christians and ministries face off against one another each claiming their perspective on the truth is the right one while labeling others as heretical.  May God help us and hasten the day when Jesus’ great high priestly prayer for unity becomes a reality. (John 17)

Do you have any thoughts on this topic?

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2 Responses to “Why I hesitate to criticize other ministers”

  1. I agree 100% to play safe, in the Body of Christ, I must never judge the Spiritual standard of another person. Also I have learned to consider others better than self. What do we do with a person, posing as Man of God, Spiritual in talk, ministering the Word & his life is fully in sin; others may be under threat to face consequences, if anyone tried to check / complain. Is the person not a Wolf in Sheep Skin? One who has never been a child of God, it may seem. Must be an impostor?
    One answer I find is to be still & know that God is watching all or should I step on? Does it mean I violate 105:15?

  2. You make several good points. First there are individuals who are ministers of the gospel yet are not living like it. Their testimony and effectiveness will always be compromised by sin. Those who persist in sin, particularly leaders and teachers whom God judges more severely, are to be challenged and if necessary warned against.
    There are also some individuals who indeed are false brethren as Paul refers to them. They are not true believers in Christ, His divinity and/or Lordship. There are certain non-negotiable doctrines and beliefs of the Christian faith as espoused in the creeds that must be adhered to in order to mark a true minister of the Gospel. Those who do not agree with such accepted, historical and fundamental Biblical truths and teach accordingly may need to be designated as such and possibly even be warned against.

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