WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
MARCH 10, 2023
TOPIC: LET CRITICISM MAKE YOU BETTER, NOT BITTER
BY T. O. BANSO
“If you refuse criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept criticism, you are on the road to fame” (Proverbs 13:18 The Living Bible).
I don’t know about you but most people don’t like criticism. But whether we like it or not, we must develop the right attitude toward it because criticism can make us better. Sometimes some drugs are bitter but they are beneficial to your health. If you love yourself, you will take them despite the bitter taste in your mouth.
Many people love praise more than criticism but both can destroy if you don’t develop the right attitude toward them. Sometimes, there is no truth in some criticisms. Some criticisms could be unfair. But sometimes they could be factual and constructive. Whatever the case, let criticism make you better, not bitter.
Even if your critics are lying against you, don’t become bitter because of this. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry (James 1:19). “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6 New King James Version)
Job told his friends, the three miserable comforters who criticized him unfairly, “I have heard all this before. What miserable comforters all of you are. Won’t you ever stop your flow of foolish words? What have I said that makes you speak so endlessly? But perhaps I’d sermonize the same as you-if you were I and I were you. I would spout off my criticisms against you and shake my head at you. But no! I would speak in such a way that it would help you. I would try to take away your grief” (Job 16:2-5 The Living Bible). Job said he could criticize them if they were in his place but he would, instead, speak words that would strengthen or help them.
When people criticize you even unfairly or tell lies, don’t react negatively or engage in a war of words with them. Don’t insult them. If you must reply, calmly explain yourself or set the records straight. Job said to his friends in Job 6:25-26, “It is wonderful to speak the truth, but your criticisms are not based on fact. Are you going to condemn me just because I impulsively cried out in desperation?” (The Living Bible).
Sometimes, you need to ignore some critics, particularly when they lack credibility. You wouldn’t dignify their criticism with a response. However, you can learn a lot from criticism of your behaviour, performance, or creative work. Don’t be like people who feel that they have grown beyond criticism or they are perfect. Such people can even quote scriptures out of context to silence others.
The Britannica Dictionary defines criticism as “the act of expressing disapproval and of noting the problems or faults of a person or thing: the act of criticizing someone or something.” It also defines it as “a remark or comment that expresses disapproval of someone or something” and “the activity of making careful judgments about the good and bad qualities of books, movies, etc.”
Nobody is perfect. There is still room for improvement for everyone. Criticism is one way to learn about what we need to improve on regarding our lives, enterprises, or pursuits. But we must not have a critical or judgmental spirit. This is negative criticism that the Bible condemns (Matthew 7:1-6; Mark 14:6; Luke 6:37; Romans 14:1-4, 10, 13; James 4:11). If a Christian must criticize, it must be truthful and done in love. Ephesians 4:15 talks about speaking the truth in love.
Have a positive attitude to criticism. Proverbs 15:31-32 says, “To be counted among the wise, you must learn to accept helpful criticism. If you refuse to be corrected, you are only hurting yourself. Listen to criticism, and you will gain understanding” (Easy-to-Read Version). The Living Bible renders the passage thus: “If you profit from constructive criticism, you will be elected to the wise men’s hall of fame. But to reject criticism is to harm yourself and your own best interests.”
It is in your best interest to accept and not reject constructive criticism. And unless you listen first, you may not know if it is constructive or destructive. Helpful or constructive criticism will make you better if you welcome it. The New Living Translation says, “If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise” (Proverbs 15:31).
Don’t hate criticism or surround yourself with sycophants or flatterers who will never tell you the truth. Proverbs 27:5 says, “Open criticism is better than hidden love” (Easy-to-Read Version). GOD’S WORD Translation says that open criticism is better than unexpressed love. Don’t hate criticism even when some critics have wrong motives or are unfair or untruthful. Listen particularly to constructive criticism. “Like a gold ring and a fine gold ornament, so is constructive criticism to the ear of one who listens” (Proverbs 25:12 GOD’S WORD Translation). The New Living Translation refers to “constructive criticism” as “valid criticisms.”
Don’t be defensive when you’re being criticized. Listen first. If the criticism is true, accept it and do what you should do. Take corrections and make yourself better even if the truth is painful. Proverbs 29:1 says, “Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery” (New Living Translation). If you learn from criticism, your life will be better. “If you refuse criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept criticism, you are on the road to fame” (Proverbs 13:18 The Living Bible).
Don’t hate, ignore, or reject criticism. Developing the right attitude of listening, calmly stating the facts when you need to, and admitting you’re wrong when you are and correcting yourself, will make you better. Criticism is inevitable in life. Some people will criticize you no matter what you do. But you can take precautions to reduce this. Paul said, “Don’t do anything that will cause criticism against yourself even though you know that what you do is right” (Romans 14:16 The Living Bible). In other words, don’t give room for people to criticize you when you can avoid it.
For instance, some ministers have been criticized over their handling of money. Probably, putting in place some structures for transparency and accountability could have averted such criticism. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 8:18-21, “We are also sending another brother with Titus. All the churches praise him as a preacher of the Good News. He was appointed by the churches to accompany us as we take the offering to Jerusalem—a service that glorifies the Lord and shows our eagerness to help. We are traveling together to guard against any criticism for the way we are handling this generous gift. We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable” (New Living Translation).
Paul was not only concerned about being honourable before the Lord but also before the people. He didn’t want anyone to accuse him of embezzling or diverting for his personal use the offering contributed by the churches for the saints in Jerusalem.
Ensure that, as much as it is humanly possible, you avoid whatever can generate unnecessary criticism. Do the right things. The Apostle Peter said, “For it is God’s will and intention that by doing right [your good and honest lives] should silence (muzzle, gag) the ignorant charges and ill-informed criticisms of foolish persons” (1 Peter 2:15 Amplified Bible).
Listen to your critics but differentiate between destructive and constructive criticisms. Don’t let the attitude of the critic make you miss the lesson you should learn and become better. Also, help others to be better but don’t be judgmental. Those who have a judgmental spirit are fault-finders and can never be pleased. Their goal is not to help the person they’re criticizing to become better. The Bible forbids this kind of criticism. Such critics are usually miserable!
Christians should learn from criticisms but avoid having a critical spirit. Luke 6:37 says, “Never criticize or condemn-or it will all come back on you. Go easy on others; then they will do the same for you” (The Living Bible). Believers should not be judgmental and criticize one another. “So don’t criticize each other anymore. Try instead to live in such a way that you will never make your brother stumble by letting him see you doing something he thinks is wrong” (Romans 14:13 The Living Bible). Let criticism make you better, not bitter.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that 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 God raised Him on 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 a palm tree and grow like a 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: Holy Spirit, help me to avoid doing anything that will cause criticism against me even when I know that what I’m doing is right. Help me do what is right, thereby silencing ignorant charges and ill-informed criticisms. I shall listen to constructive criticism and not stubbornly refuse to accept it. I shall profit from constructive criticism. Criticism shall make me better, not bitter, in Jesus’ name.
(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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