WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MARCH 15, 2021
TOPIC: LEARNING FROM CRITICISM
BY T. O. BANSO
“If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept criticism, you will be honored” (Proverbs 13:18 New Living Translation).
Criticism is defined as the act of noting the problems or faults of a person or thing. Human beings like praise rather than criticism even when they’ve done less than what is praiseworthy.
Often times, we look at the negative side of criticism and we’re quick to defend ourselves by citing scriptures that warn against judging others (Matthew 7:1-5; Luke 6:37-42; Romans 14:4; James 4:11-12) even though we often quote these scriptures out of context just to silence our critics.
While a critical spirit, a hypocritical, self-righteous, and judgmental attitude is bad and that is what the Bible discourages, we can benefit from criticisms even if badly made! We can sometimes look beyond the messenger and take the message. We can overlook the language and method and consider the substance if there is any.
Proverbs 15:31-32 says, “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject criticism, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding” (New Living Translation). We should learn to develop the right attitude to both constructive and destructive criticisms! Why? – Criticisms can make us better if we respond to them appropriately.
Right ways to handle criticisms
1.Listen to criticisms. If you don’t, you won’t get the message. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry (James 1:19).
2. Consider the criticism. Differentiate between the message and the messenger. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. The critic’s style may not be right and you may not be comfortable with the message, but think about it.
Ask yourself sincere questions – Is it true? Am I wrong? etc. “People who accept correction are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore it will lead others astray” (Proverbs 10:17 New Living Translation). Your attitude to correction shows whether you’re foolish or wise. “A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent” (Proverbs 15:5 New King James Version). In other words, he who is wise receives correction. Mockers hate rebuke; the wise love it (Proverbs 9:8).
3. Don’t be angry with your critic’s style or method. Most critics don’t look at issues from your own point of view but theirs. If you’re angry, you’ll miss the point. “A fool gives full vent to anger, but a wise person quietly holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11 New Living Translation). Don’t be a fool. “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9 New King James Version).
4. Admit your fault and change if the criticism is true. Be humble and make the necessary correction. It shows you have character, not weak. Proverbs 25:12 says, “Valid criticism is as treasured by the one who heeds it as jewelry made from finest gold” (New Living Translation). Criticisms, if well received, may actually sharpen you or make you better. “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17 New Living Translation).
5. If criticism is unfair, just ignore or disregard it, and don’t take it to heart. Don’t allow it to disturb you or make you bitter. Guard your heart. “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do” (Proverbs 4:23 New Living Translation). The New King James Version says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Protect your heart.
6. If the criticism is untrue, you may need to, sometimes, calmly and clearly set the record straight. Don’t attack the person of the critic – address the issue. Don’t insult the critic. Sometimes it is wise to just ignore totally some criticisms, though they’re untrue. Know when to ignore or to reply.
People who hate criticisms often fall into the error of surrounding themselves with flatterers. “In the end, people appreciate frankness more than flattery” (Proverbs 28:23 New Living Translation). Also, Proverbs 26:28 says, “A lying tongue hates its victims, and flattery causes ruin” (New Living Translation).
Be careful. Some critics are actually critical friends. A critical friend is “Someone who is encouraging and supportive, but who also provides honest and often candid feedback that may be uncomfortable or difficult to hear.”
Be blessed by those who commend you (not flatter you) but don’t be frustrated by those who criticize you. “Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” (Proverbs 27:5-6 New King James Version).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Father, help me to develop the right attitude to criticisms. Help me to pay attention to the issues and not attack the character of my critics. Holy Spirit, help me not to be angry at criticisms even when they are untrue or unfair. I shall humbly receive criticisms and not be blinded by my ego. I shall benefit from criticisms; I shall become better and not become bitter in Jesus’ name. Father, deliver those with a judgmental spirit that they will stop destroying themselves and others.
(For over 400 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit: www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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