Sometimes when we're criticized, the criticism is just poorly assessed opinions from people who do not have all the facts. Sometimes even total strangers will mumble a criticism toward us in a crowded line at the local Walmart. I once had lady criticize how I loaded my items on the conveyor at the grocery store (and I was only purchasing three items.) Uninformed or impersonal criticism is one thing, but when the criticism comes from family, friend or co-workers, it can be quite painful. And the real problem with being criticized is that it can easily become an opportunity for us to sin. We are often tempted to respond with anger, bitterness or defensiveness and this can lead to further sin. And if we internalize the criticism, we can think self-condemning thoughts that are unproductive and even sinful.
So the question becomes: How should Christians handle criticism? Well, here are four biblical truths that help us welcome criticism as a friend.
1. We need to recognize the raw reality of the Gospel.
Romans 5:12 - "Therefore since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand." (NIV)
If Christ is your Savior, He exchanged your ledger of sins with His righteousness. Your ledger no longer has any stains or sins listed. His death on the cross, His love for you, covers all of your sins.
2. We need to remove ourselves from the formula.
If you will crucify yourself, particularly your pride, to "be something," and recognize that God is the one who "is something," you will not sin as you are being criticized. One of the ways that I do this is to turn to my accountability group and openly share the criticism without defensiveness. I simply let them know what I have been accused of and ask for guidance, counsel and help. This exposure immediately gives me a level of humility with a group of spiritual men who are guiding me.
3. We need to realize the real depth of our deceived heart.
4. We need to rest in God's acceptance.
So, not only are you at peace with God, but there is absolutely no condemnation from God toward you. The same chapter ends with this great truth: Romans 8:31-35 - "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ?" (NASU) We can rest in God's acceptance!
When people criticize you, evaluate the message, learn from your mistakes, mature in your behavior and, above all, rest in God's grace, peace and acceptance of you.