|Volume 21 Number 10 October 2019||
Criticism is something with which we all must learn to live. Irrational critics who are determined to leave “no turn unstoned” (yes, you read that right) can always find fault and criticize. Jesus Himself was a victim of critics. He was criticized because of His family background (Matthew 13:54-57). He was criticized regarding His home community (Luke 1:46). He was criticized for His association with sinners (Matthew 9:11). He was criticized for doing good on the Sabbath day (Mark 2:23-28). Jesus warned His disciples that criticism would be inescapable (Luke 17:1; John 16:1-3; Matthew 5:10-12).
Generally, a “loud attempt to excuse helps those who accuse.” If truth has been slandered, constructive rebuttal to “clear the air” may be necessary and wise. Note a few biblical examples of this, and please look up the passage and read all the context.
Brethren, we can always emerge from unjust criticism victoriously. Here is how.
Criticism will come and go as we live for the Lord. Jesus endured criticism and shame, and He died for us. What are we willing to do for Him? Is there ever a time when criticism requires a firm rebuttal? Yes indeed.
A Holy Kiss
In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul wrote, “Salute one another with a holy kiss” (Romans 10:16). This was to be a salute, a greeting that expressed a longing for the well‑being of the other Christians in this world and in eternity, similar to the deeper meaning of the word “shalom,” in Hebrew. This word, “shalom,” according to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, means “completeness, soundness, welfare and peace.” Within the word, as in the giving of a holy kiss, the giver is expressing all these things to the other person in both the physical and the spiritual realms. This kiss, however, is much more than the everyday kiss of greeting.
This kiss is separate in its application, for it is to be a “holy kiss,” not the run‑of‑the‑mill peck on the cheek or the passionate kiss between lovers. This kiss is a kiss of respect and true regard for the other person. In western society, the thought of one man kissing another is usually greeted, unless it is a son to a father or vice versa, as an unthinkable and unwanted occurrence. Men and women who are friends may kiss each other on the cheek, but that is the limit of what is considered “proper behavior” in our society. Yet, that is not so in other parts of the world, and certainly not so in the ancient Middle East where the custom was normal. Any omission of the custom was considered a deep and telling insult. Such was the case when our Lord visited Simon the Pharisee. Jesus was not offered water or oil and was not kissed upon entry to the home. When our Lord was not offered a welcome that any host was expected to offer a guest, Jesus said, “Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet” (Luke 7:45.) By not kissing our Lord, Simon made a very strong statement of disrespect toward Christ, one that did not go without notice.
The Holy Bible makes strong contrasts between holy and unholy kisses. In 2 Samuel 20:9, we read of how Joab was so full of vengeance for the brother who had been killed in battle that he grabbed the beard of Amasa, the man who had slain Joab’s brother, while he kissed him in greeting. The most well‑known kiss was the one given by Judas Iscariot to Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane. The kiss Judas gave was one of betrayal, a kiss that mocked the true meaning of the gesture of respect. In our western culture, it would be like shaking another’s hand while having the wickedest of motivations behind it.
Although many misinterpret the writings of Paul, we must remember the motivation behind his words. We, as Christians, should show respect for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We should seek to encourage each other and to show our delight at being in the presence of another servant of our Lord. When we do greet other Christians, what we are doing is wishing all the blessings of God upon them, just as was customary in the early church. We in the western world do not kiss each other in this manner, but we do share the same sentiment and expression of the deeper meaning of the action with the shaking of hands or with a friendly, warm embrace.