by Rick Duncan, Cuyahoga Valley Church Founding Pastor
We’ve been learning from how Peter responded to Paul’s confrontation recorded in Galatians 2:11-14. He heard, heeded, and helped the one who confronted him. How did he do that? God had given him a gift. Humility.
The key to being a lifelong learner: humility!
It takes a humble man to respond well to a challenge, especially if that man is as strong a leader as Peter.
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble. I Peter 5:5 (NASB)
It’s hard to say, “You are right and I am wrong. Thank you for challenging me, for correcting me.” But the first test of a truly great man is his humility. Someone said, “The beginning of greatness is to be little; the increase of greatness is to be less; and the perfection of greatness is to be nothing.”
Fools think they know what is best, but a sensible person listens to advice.
Proverbs 12:15 (CEV)
Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear. Proverbs 25:12 (NIV)
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. Proverbs 9:9 (ESV)
Now, how did Peter finish after being confronted by Paul? Did he finish well? Consider the facts:
- Late in his life, Peter sat down with a young believer named Mark and told stories about his life with Jesus. Mark wrote it down in the book that now carries his name.
- Later in his life, Peter sat down and wrote a letter to strengthen suffering believers scattered throughout the present-day Turkey. It’s the book we call I Peter.
- He wrote a second book to remind believers to grow in the grace and knowledge or the Lord Jesus. We call this book II Peter.
- In F.B. Meyer’s book, The Life of Peter, we learn that the last 16 or 17 years of his life Peter traveled with his devoted wife from place to place with such remarkable success that there was a widespread turning to God from idols.
Was he a lifelong learner? The impact of his life says he was. But what about Peter’s tendency to cave into the crowd – to wilt under pressure?
We first hear of Peter’s death in a letter from an early church leader, Clement. He mentions the suffering and martyrdom of Peter in Rome. The Romans were notorious for saying, “Deny that Christ is Lord and you will live. Confess that Christ is Lord and you will die.” Peter didn’t wilt this time. He didn’t deny Christ. He won! He finished strong by dying for his faith in Jesus.
An early church historian named Eusebius wrote: “Peter appears to have preached through Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Asia, to the Jews that were scattered abroad; who also, finally coming to Rome, was crucified with his head downward, having requested of himself to suffer in this way.”
How long are you going to listen to the same critique over and over before you realize that God is working to get your attention? It is God who is seeking to make you like Jesus through the observations of the people around you. Your spouse has been confronting you about an area in your life for years, but you won’t listen. Your kids have been challenging you. Your friends have been pointing out blind spots. Your business associates often say the same things.
It’s time to hear, to heed, and to help your godly critic. And the only way to do that is to become more and more humble.
A point to ponder: When I am humble, I can keep changing… for the better.
A verse to remember: Take good counsel and accept correction–that’s the way to live wisely and well. Proverbs 19:20 (MSG)
A question to consider: What lessons has God been seeking to teach you through others that you have been too proud to learn?