Matters of Faith: Proverbs 9:9
Criticism. Encouraging or Defeating? I think it depends on how we look at it.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning. Proverbs 9:9
According to the previous couple of verses: Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Proverbs 9:7-8, it seems clear that there are times better served to leave the wicked and fools alone. This reminds me that it’s all about relationships. Going after a “mocker” is a waste of time and energy.
But in your Christian walk, criticism should be expected. Enemies will criticize because they don’t like what you are doing, saying or acting. Friends will criticize because they know and love you; they want to see you grow, improve and learn. Both forms can sting. Both forms can truly hurt our feelings. If we are wise, we know there is nothing to gain by getting angry when criticized. Instead, we should listen to the real meaning of the words; there might be a sliver of truth or some point that we do need to address.
Some of the most painful words said to me have triggered memories and brought past issues to light that I still needed forgiveness for or needed to forgive someone else. I try to give thought to criticism based on my experiences. Can I learn something from this interaction? Is there something I can take from this and become stronger? Should I shake it off and just let it go? Does this person know me, really know me…and even if the delivery method wasn’t the best..do they have a point?
A wise lady once told me to make it a habit of taking painful things to the Lord. Criticism definitely falls under this category. It’s super easy to get my feelings hurt and wonder, How can I get back at this person? But that isn’t what we are taught in the Word. If we are or want to be wise, we need to consider what is said against the Word and use what is good to grow and toss the trash away where it belongs.
Criticism is tough to hear when the words are true and painful even when they are not. The next time you are criticized, instead of fighting back or getting back at your critics, take the pain to the Lord. Allow Him to show you if there is anything you need to learn to be wiser. He will also apply the balm your heart needs to learn and grow.