“Learning to Take Criticism”

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Every human being loves encouragement and welcomes it every time it comes his way. This means that we naturally love every form of verbal affirmation we receive, as well as every physical pat on the back. Who wouldn’t? You would have to be literally sub-human to reject such strokes from your fellowman. Sadly, because of our love for personal praise, we rarely apply King Solomon’s words of wisdom, “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise” (Proverbs 27:21). In the same way, every son of Adam does not like to receive, hear, or read critical remarks made about him. In fact, all criticism, whether it’s true and of a constructive nature, coming from a gracious voice; or, it’s false and of an unwarranted kind, from a malicious voice; it is never a sweet experience for we who inhabit those wretched “bodies of death” that Paul spoke so clearly about in Romans (7:24). 

Further, our “culture of self” adds to our already both blatant and rampant affair with self-love (2 Timothy 3:2). Why? Because we love ourselves so much that we never want to hear about our own personal deficiencies, whether it is from anyone telling us what we already know is true about ourselves, or it is from someone reminding us that we have fallen short of theirs or another’s standard(s). Such a native defensive attitude is what so often debilitates so many Christians from simple, solid, and vibrant progress in their faith. This means we must all learn to respond to our daily troubles (Matthew 6:33; John 16:33) with teachable hearts. O God, please grant us hearts to handle criticism with a godly response! Thus, we learn, that it is from what we so often do not like intruding our lives (criticism, hurricanes, car trouble, sickness, etc.) that we can potentially experience the greatest and the deepest spiritual growth. I believe, this is the reason why, the Rev. George Whitefield, the great 18th Century evangelist, made the following statement, “Critics are the unpaid guardians of the soul.” Do you view your critics in this way? Do you aim to gain something to work on from even your most unjust critics? I believe that God desires his children to see His providence even in all the criticism that comes their way. Hear King Solomon once again, “He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise ... he who listens to reproof acquires understanding (Proverbs 15:31-32). Indeed, “We often stand in need of hearing what we know full well” (Walter Savage Landor [1775-1864]). O God, we thank you for your wisdom in always sending the right critic with the right criticism for our ultimate spiritual good (Genesis 18:25)! In conclusion, let us draw near to God, first, by taking heed to our heart preparation today, for encountering the living God tomorrow, in our public Worship service, both through our praises and prayers to Him, with God’s people; and secondly, through our attending to the reading and preaching of His Holy, inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word! Soli Deo Gloria! Happy Reformation Year 500!!

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