Criticism has been a human condition FOREVER. But today’s nasty descendent has morphed into a form almost unrecognizable from its original mold. It is a product of the social media boom, of course. But that online version of criticism has leaked over into offline life where criticism has become sport. Online or offline, criticism has sank its barbed talons into our mind and heart. As Christians, we ignore it at our peril.
All of that sets up this important question: What should believers do in the midst of criticism’s pervasive force and painful jabs?
Our first line of defense is to go on offense by accepting that criticism as ever-present and NOT ready to disappear any time soon from life on earth. We must know that criticism or lack of affirmation do not make us right or wrong; qualified or unqualified; righteous or unrighteous. We get our righteousness from JESUS.
We are vulnerable to criticism because of our deep-seated need to be liked and affirmed. Problems and pain come quickly when we look in the wrong direction and to the wrong source for that affirmation. Our affirmation should NEVER come from the world. It should ALWAYS come from God.
We never have to fear criticism. We never have to “protect” our fragile reputation. We never have to view our mistakes as the end of the story, either. What follows is my three-step process to crush criticism.
1: GO TO GOD (Criticism’s Measurement)
God’s Word is the ONLY way to measure criticism. It’s difficult, but we must drop our defensive reaction and realize that we do NOT have the power to pass judgment on ourselves. Other people do not have the power to pass judgment on ourselves. ONLY GOD HAS THE POWER TO PASS JUDGMENT.
“When he was insulted, he did not answer back with an insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but placed his hopes in God, the righteous Judge.” 1 Peter 2:23
The truth and power of GOD’S WORD gives us: 1) Peace from the internal voice of self-righteousness that seeks to elevate us above criticism and whispers of self-condemnation that reduce our confidence in Christ; and 2) Direction on how to respond to criticism of all kinds—justified or unwarranted.
2: PROBE (Examine Yourself)
Before we can receive and fully comprehend God’s promises in the area of criticism and affirmation, we need to open ourselves up to hear. It’s wise to DESIRE and SEEK OUT correction, rebuke, and criticism. Listen and be OPEN TO being wrong. Be teachable…and changeable.
“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” Proverbs 19:20
3: PAUSE & PRAY (The Exoneration MYTH)
Give yourself time to consider the criticism before you speak. The flesh will want to strike back immediately.
“Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:9
We are freed by God’s Word to receive criticism without anger and resentment. That’s why we need to stop fantasizing about being EXONERATED. I call this the “Exoneration MYTH.” The truth is that whether the truth comes out in our lifetime or not, God will eventually cast his light on EVERYTHING.
Finally, pray for those who criticize you (Matthew 5:44).
I ask God to help me know that the world’s criticism is NOT the measure of who I am in him.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
How did you handle the last round of criticism you received? How will you respond to the next attack?
“Test everything, hold fast to what is good.” 1 Thessalonians 5:21
“Let a righteous man strike me — it is a kindness; let him rebuke me — it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.” Psalms 141:5