Can you Handle Criticism?


Every person loves to receive encouragement, whether it is by way of verbal affirmation or simply a pat on the back. Who wouldn’t? You would have to be sub-human to reject such positive strokes. Sadly, because of our love for personal praise, we rarely recall King Solomon’s warning, “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise” (Proverbs 27:21). So, due to our sin nature, every son of Adam and every daughter of Eve does not like to receive, hear, or read about negative or critical remarks made about them. In fact, all criticism we receive -- whether constructive in nature and flowing from a gracious voice, or false and unwarranted coming from a malicious voice -- is never a sweet experience for saved sinners who are daily at war against their own sinful hearts (Romans 3:23) while they live in a “body of death”(Romans 7:24).

The aforementioned natural and very personal tendencies are exacerbated by our “culture of self” which continually adds to our on-going struggle against “self-love” (2 Timothy 3:2). Why? Because we love ourselves so much that we do not want to hear about our own personal issues and deficiencies from another’s lips -- even if we already know them to be true! Yet, it is our very sinful and defensive response to such criticism that so often hinders our pursuit of simple, solid, and vibrant spiritual progress in our Christian life. Walter Landor was correct when he said, “We often stand in need of hearing what we know full well.”

Therefore, how we handle criticism is one of the most revealing marks of whether we are moving toward, or will move toward, growing in true humility (Proverbs 13:10). Spiritual growth is seen by how we respond to both unfair criticism (Proverbs 12:18) and constructive criticism (Proverbs 15:32). Handling criticism in a God-glorifying way, coupled with how we respond to the inevitable daily trials that come our way (Matthew 6:34; John 16:33), reveal whether we have a teachable heart that can go on to spiritual maturity (Hebrews 5:11-14). George Whitefield’s wise counsel must also be heeded:  “Critics are the unpaid guardians of the soul.”

Do you view your critics in this way? Do you aim to gain something from even your most unjust critics? Do you now want to respond with self-control, humility, and prayer to criticism? God desires His children to see His providence even in “all” the criticism that comes their way. And let us never forget, “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool” (Proverbs 17:10). O God, please help us to handle criticism with a godly response, and bring glory to Your name!

Jerry Marcellino is pastor of Audubon Drive Bible Church in Laurel. He can be reached by e-mail at

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