Dear Salvation Army, Nativity or Negativity?

It is easy to do.
To dwell upon negative comments.
To feast upon the criticism.
Somethings are just not good enough for anyone.
Let’s face it, you just cannot please everyone all of the time.

why do we allow the negativity of others to penetrate our defenses?
why do we have to have defenses in the first place?
why do we have to constantly be on guard?

In this season of joyful anticipation and as we reflect upon Christ’s birth once more, chances are we will face negativity, harsh comments and barbed words.  It is easy to become jaded during a very arduous season!
Even though this season has been conveniently coined “the season of giving”, sometimes what people give is pain, words that are sharpened to a point, and sadness.  Many times, dear soldier, we work and work and work to help people in need only to face a moment of criticism by someone and it all seems to crash to ground like a house of cards.  Do you know what I’m talking about today?  Have you experienced this?  Perhaps this negativity comes in the form of one we are trying to give generously to who spurns our efforts because it doesn’t meet their standards. Perhaps it comes in the form of a volunteer who criticizes the way that you have organized and led this ragtag group of ‘do-gooders’.   In one fell swoop your anticipation for that ‘warm fuzzies’ in the stomach while helping those in need is left dangling upon an open pit of flames as you utter sarcastically under your breath “thanks a lot!

I hope I’m not painting a scene of hopelessness here today for you.  That is not my purpose in writing this, dear soldier.
My purpose for writing this is to remind us all that we aren’t working for the ‘chin nods‘ and approval of people, we are working (because of faith) in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  We are attempting to emulate His selflessness in our sometimes feeble attempts.   That doesn’t mean that we don’t keep the standards high in our preparations and organization, but it does mean that our attempts at helping those in need; our attempts at raising funds and giving love and hope to those without love and hope should be impervious to destructive criticism and harsh judgments upon us.  The reality is that because we have invested and given ourselves completely over to these tasks, we will take these slings and arrows very personally.

A reminder:
Man isn’t your judge in terms of the service that you give to God.
You serve a higher calling.  You are set apart.  You matter.  You have value!
Negativity will come.  Destructive criticism (not to be confused with constructive God-honoring accountability) will come.
We will not please everyone in these efforts of mercy, hope and love.  Some will come to us to rage just because they enjoy raging.

It’s sounds cliche’, tired and old, but remember Christ this Christmas.
Don’t get dragged down into the pits of negativity.
Don’t wallow in these places.
They will never make you into the person God has called you to be.
These places will only serve to make you bitter and burned out.
Take time to get away for even a few minutes.
Catch your breath.
Feast on His promises.
Remember the birth of Christ.
Read it again.  Chew on the lessons within the text.  Apply humility and love in your responses when all you want to do is rage back.

Dear Soldier, remember 
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

All my work is for the Master,
He is all my heart’s desire;
O that he may count me faithful
In the day that tries by fire!
(SASB 522, chorus)

Something more for our Army to ponder today.
To God be the glory!

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