BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY….. “If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.” Proverbs 13:18 NLT
Although Solomon was wise beyond words, he understood important concepts of about life, human nature and success. We see this reflected in his perspective of the value and role of criticism.
The Amplified Bible words Proverbs 27:6 like this, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend [who corrects out of love and concern]…” However, even ill intended and criticism offered with malice may have some redeeming aspect to it.
There are extremes that need to be avoided. One is a stone-cold response to criticism, dismissing it even when it is given with good intentions. This response is one of immediate defensiveness, perhaps even lashing out at the individual who spoke the words.
Solomon says, that criticism ignored is the path to poverty and disgrace. That “criticism” may be actually a warning. It might be advice that if heeded, will be of great benefit. The first part of Proverbs 15:32 says, “Those who disregard discipline despise themselves…”
The other extreme is to allow criticism to destroy any motivation for improvement. In this situation an individual feels so “beat down” that they draw a false and fatal conclusion about themselves and their worth. Of course those who constantly criticize are guilty of verbal abuse and promote those negative conclusions one can have.
This proverb assumes the condition that criticism is not a constant barrage on a person’s life. I remember the quote, probably of a politician, “I’m never lost, because everyone is telling me where to go!”
Over the years, I have learn much and appreciate the criticism I have received from individuals. As if being a pastor doesn’t make you a target enough, I found going into politics provided a whole new dimension of ideas and criticism and yes judgments. But most of them I found where from individuals who were “in my corner” and wanted to help me be the best I could be.
Some important principles to keep in mind:
1 – We have to recognize that others see things in us that we don’t see in ourselves.
2 – When criticism is offered, consider the source. While even some good can come from criticism that is intended to harm more than help, it is important to discern the motives of the person making the comments. Some one who is a “frequent offender” is not a reliable source.
3 – Try not to immediately react or respond. The idea of a “selah moment” is helpful. “Pause and Ponder.”
4 – Prayerfully consider what has been shared and ask the Lord to help you to understand the point and how to apply it to your life if the criticism is valid.
Criticism should not be a default self-improvement plan, but it can be of some value when we keep an open mind and heart; when we consider the source and we trust the Lord to help us to create value for our lives. When criticism is valuable correction and instruction, it can be a key to improvement and success.
Prayer for today…. Lord, help us to grow in all the ways that come into our life. Even though criticism is a challenge, it can present an opportunity for something positive in our lives. Give us discernment and understanding that we need so we can be honored before you and others.