Criticism Is Critical.
“If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.” – Proverbs 13:18 NLT
Counsel, criticism, and correction. The Proverbs talk about all three and remind us that those who are wise willingly and gladly accept all three equally. But the reality for most of us is that we, at best, tolerate one of them and despise the other two. We will listen to counsel if we think it will benefit us or if it doesn’t vary too much from our preconceived plans. But criticism and correction are two separate matters. Nobody likes to be criticized. And few of us truly enjoy correction. But again, the wise are those who have learned the value of all three. Even a child can come to the place where they understand that their parents’ discipline is beneficial. “A wise child accepts a parent’s discipline, a mocker refuses to listen to correction” (Proverbs 13:1 NLT). Over in the book of Colossians, Paul tells us that, as believers, we have a responsibility to admonish or warn one another as part of our corporate experience as believers. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16 NIV). We all have blind spots, those areas of our lives that we’re unable to see, and it takes a loving brother or sister in Christ to point them out so we can confess them and be cleansed from them. Those who are wise take counsel and correction equally. They see the benefit of both. “People who despise advice are asking for trouble” (Proverbs 13:13 NLT). “If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace” (Proverbs 13:18 NLT). Pretty serious stuff. Yet think about how often we reject the counsel, correction and criticism of others. We may accept it with a smile, but inside we can be angry and resentful. We may even avoid that person in the future, refusing to allow them to speak into our lives. When we do, we are the losers. We miss out on the benefits God has intended. Even when someone criticizes us unfairly or wrongly, we should learn to accept it patiently and lovingly, understanding that God knows our heart.
At the end of the day, our unwillingness to accept counsel, correction or criticism is all about pride. Admitting our flaws, acknowledging our ignorance, or accepting our need for correction is hard on our egos. But the wise rather increase in wisdom than worry about their pride. They would prefer to become more godly than simply pamper their egos with false flattery and pride-producing praise. Wise people know that it takes a true friend to tell you what everyone else is afraid to tell you. Wise people know that ignorance is NOT bliss and what you don’t know CAN hurt you. Wise people know that criticism may hurt, but not as much as hypocrisy or lies disguised as praise. Wise people don’t just tolerate counsel, they seek it. They depend on it. Counsel, criticism and correction. Three invaluable resources in the toolbox of the wise. You can’t live well without them.
Father, thank You for those You have placed in my life who love me enough to be honest with me. Thank You for giving them the ability to see what I can’t see and the determination to speak into my life revealing my flaws, sharing their wisdom, and lovingly correcting my mistakes. Give me an increasing love for godly counsel, correction and criticism in my life. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men