I did not say that criticism was easy to hear. Criticism is not easy to hear, however, it is valuable. There are five sources of criticism. I have not listed them in the order of importance. The most important form is the one we are experiencing at any given time.
1. The first form of criticism is constructive criticism.
”Open rebuke is better than secret love….Faithful are the wounds of a friend….” Proverbs 27:5-6, KJV.
“Open” does not mean public it means revealed or expressed. If you have someone in your life who loves you enough to give you constructive criticism, you are a rich person. That individual cares about your welfare and wants to see you succeed. This criticism is called “constructive” because their goal is your benefit. This individual sees you doing something or saying something that is to your detriment. Their love and concern for you prompts them to express the danger of your continued errant thinking, words or deeds. This is what a parent does for a child, a husband does for a wife, a wife does for a husband and a friend does for a friend.
2. The second form of criticism is destructive criticism. The person offering this criticism wants you destroyed. They hope their criticism destroys you. Their criticism can destroy you if you let it. Rather than let the criticism destroy you, if (and only if) the criticism has any merit, use the criticism to become better. This unsavory person may be telling you what your friends want to tell you but do not know how. If the criticism has absolutely no basis in reality to any degree, then ignore it.
3. Between the two extremes of destructive and constructive criticism is the normal run-of-the-mill criticism from people who neither love us or hate us but have observed something in our life or speech that prompts them to be critical. These people are not our friends nor our enemies but their criticism is valuable because they have no motivation to do us harm or good.
The Bible instructs us to strive for perfection in every thought, every word and every deed. (Philippians 3:12, Matthew 5:48 and 12:36, 2 Corinthians 10:5). Sin comes from the inside out, not the outside in. None of us will reach perfection in this life, however, the direction of our life should be steady improvement.
Jesus died to save me from the penalty of my sin. Thank God he will do that by his power alone. However, Jesus also died to save me from the habit of my sin. That cannot be done by Jesus alone. It takes a life-time of my effort, also. I will never be perfect, but with God’s help I can do better. One of God’s tools for our self-improvement is the criticism of others. Criticism is a friend, not an enemy.
Some years ago, I heard what I was told is an old Jewish proverb. I have slightly altered it to avoid criticism for cursing.
“If one man called a donkey, ignore him. If two men call thee a donkey, consider their words. If three men call thee a donkey, repent or buy thee a saddle.”
I do not love criticism because it is easy to hear. It isn’t. I love criticism because, eventually, wrong thoughts, words or deeds bring death to good things in my life. If I respond positively towards justified criticism, my life will be better, I will be a better person, I will be more equipped to be a servant of Christ, I will have more success in life, Jesus will be more proud of me and I will avoid the embarrassment and failures that will eventually come if I do not correct my wrong thoughts, words and deeds. (James 1:15). I love criticism because I never want to be ashamed of the person in my mirror and I never want to bring shame to my Lord. I have had my life-fill of both. Anyone can accuse me of many failures. I am guilty. However, I never want to be guilty of not trying. I never want to be guilty of failing to strive for perfection.
I say again — criticism is a friend, not an enemy.
5. The fourth source of criticism is our conscience. God has built a conscience into every mentally-healthy individual. Narcissists have a tiny conscience that barely and seldom functions. Psychopaths and sociopath’s do not have a conscience; that is what makes them psychopaths and sociopath’s.
4. The fifth form of criticism is the the conviction of (criticism from) the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit conviction is divine criticism. Meditate on that for a while! It is an eye and heart opener.
”…(the Holy Spirit)…convict(s)…about [the guilt of] sin….” John 16:8, AMP (Note 1.)
Put the reproduced verses noted in this article (Proverbs 27:5-6 and John 16:8) together.
“Open rebuke is better than secret love….Faithful are the wounds of a friend….(The Holy Spirit)…convict(s)…about [the guilt of] (my) sin….” (Note 2.)
Now sing, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”.
I hope you love criticism. Our attitude towards criticism reveals a lot about our character.
”Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;
reprove a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” Proverbs 9:8-9, ESV
Rev. Joda Collins
I make no claim that anyone else agrees with me.
Note 1: The first and second parenthesis are mine. The second parenthesis changes verse from future to present tense to align with the present ministry of the Holy Spirit. The words in brackets are in the text.
Note 2: I added the word “we” (in parenthesis) for personal emphasis.