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Proverbs 25:11-13
Honest words can be painful, but what do your criticisms amount to? (Job 6:25).

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What do you think is the difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism? (See Proverbs 15:31)

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When insulted by a friend, consider this passage by Andrew Peterson, “What defense have I but to flee? Not to flee from the enemy, but to the protection of the King” (Behold the Lamb, 2011). How can you be more Christlike in your criticism?

Have you, like me, ever had a person in your life who in many ways is a friend, but is also your toughest critic? If so, do you wonder how to respond properly to this person?

In my case, I know my friend means well, but she often forcefully sends critical comments without seeking my consent to receive her insights. With that in mind, I so appreciate how Paul pursued the consent of his friend Philemon (Philemon 1:14).

When my “frenemy” sent me an unsolicited email a few weeks ago, listing my faults and suggesting that I have only two areas of giftedness, naturally I was upset. Yet, rather than praying and asking God how to handle the insults, I did a Google search. I looked up “bully” and other synonyms that I felt described my overbearing, highly opinionated friend.

It was easy to find words and articles to confirm that my friend was speaking inappropriately to me, but I was still left without a solution. So I called a wise friend. She suggested that instead of turning to the Internet, I turn to God. “Ask the Lord to help you filter the letter,” she said. “Ask Him to help you cling to what is true and expose the lies. Ask God if the enemy is trying to tap into lies you believe about yourself through your friend’s letter.”

Her advice reiterated the proverb that states, “Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket” (Proverbs 25:11). It’s good for us to listen to advice (Proverbs 25:12), but we should ask God to help us discern whether or not the criticism is valid. If our messenger is trustworthy, even if the message brings conviction and points out areas where we need change, it will yield refreshment (Proverbs 25:13). Make sure you gain permission before bringing criticism to a friend.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Genesis 28:10-22

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3 Responses to “toughest critic”

  1. Gene says:

    Taking and/or receiving criticism can be tough. Having people in our lives who we trust and have our best interest in mind makes all the difference. The metaphors offered in these passages are beautiful.

    • Hoverjeff says:

      While it is hard to imagine someone fussing about you, Roxanne, I too have seen similar situations and my first impulse is to get angry and lash out, but then most of the time I remember that first impulses are usually wrong. I try to remember that …”There is a way that seems right to a person, but the end of those ways is death”.
      It is far better to seek God’s opinion of such criticism and filter it through His Word.

  2. daisymarygoldr says:

    Pertinent post, Roxanne! Note, Paul sought the permission of Philemon for bringing Onesimus. Speaking of criticism, you are absolutely right; we should make sure it is valid. In my experience if it is valid, the criticism will come from different directions even from those who do not know me personally. If there is truth to it, we still have the choice to either take action and rectify our flaws or simply ignore the critique. There is no compulsion to accept criticism.

    Be forthright to let the person know that their overbearing opinions are not welcome. I’m sure your friend will appreciate this because it is equally painful to point out faults in another. Not sure how we can be Christlike in our criticism. Jesus was highly critical of religious people who were not doing right as leaders and teachers. The harsh words He used will not be considered kind by our standards.

    In my understanding, criticism is not a virtue which Christians are called to cultivate. In the Bible, we are commanded to rebuke, reprove, reprimand and speak the truth in love and humility. The motive always should be to correct the error not kill the spirit. Critique the product—behavior, attitude, thinking or teaching, without condemning the person. Assure them of your support and help. This is what I did at work today.

    It is not an easy task and we don’t relish being truthful especially when we know honesty hurts. Criticism is a spontaneous reaction to something that is not right. People don’t premeditate but simply blurt out the truth to state the obvious; so sometimes there is no time to gain permission. Remember the story of the little boy who cried out “The Emperor is naked” when no one else would speak the truth.

    True; receiving critical comments is not pleasant. However, a wise person will choose criticism over compliment. Whether it comes from a friend or an enemy, criticism serves to improve us. Its value is recognized by a listening ear and received by a teachable spirit. In fact those of us who seek to perfect our performance, productivity and progress, we each are our own toughest critics.

    Finally, when insulted by a friend do not respond with insult. It will result in bitterness to spring in you and affect your personal witness. Don’t harbor hatred or anger which will provide a foothold for the enemy. Pray for them. When Job prayed for his friends, God restored his fortunes (Job 42:10).

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