Nobody likes criticism. It can hurt, especially when unsolicited, and is sometimes delivered with unkind words and a harsh spirit. However, we must be careful not to reject the reproof without first considering whether it’s valid.
God can use an honest, direct person to convey something we need to hear. Criticism forces us to examine ourselves. God’s goal is that we grow in spiritual maturity and holiness, but we all have blind spots that keep us from seeing the areas He wants to transform. If we fail to listen to a reproof He allows to come our way, our spiritual growth could be stunted. However, this doesn’t mean all critiques are valid. That’s why it’s important to respond well and evaluate criticism correctly.
- Do not immediately reject the comment, blame the person, or defend yourself. Instead, consider what was said, and ask God to help you discern if it’s true.
- Thank the person for his interest in you and explain that you’ll reflect on his observation. If he was sincere, he’ll be appreciative, but if his intentions were negative, this may disarm him.
- Evaluate the criticism and determine what exactly is under scrutiny—your beliefs, your character, God … ?
- View this as an opportunity for growth, and if necessary, apologize.
Instead of allowing criticism to lead us into anger and self-pity, we should let it do its work in our life. We can’t allow hurt or anger to derail what God wants to do in us—namely, make us more Christlike. And isn’t that what we all want?
Bible in One Year: Isaiah 63-66