HOW TO HANDLE THE CRITICS

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In life, there are some things that, humanly speaking, are simply impossible. It is impossible to survive without air. It is impossible to fly without a plane or a jet pack. It is impossible to add one cubit to your stature. (Trust me, I tried!) It is also impossible to get through life without dealing with criticism!

Anyone who tries to accomplish anything will find themselves dealing with The Critic. It has been so since the Garden of Eden, when the master critic aimed his serpent’s tongue against God himself. It will be so until The Lord makes all thing new.

* Moses spent his entire ministry being criticized.
* Elijah, Jeremiah, Elisha, & Nehemiah were all criticized.
* Even the Lord Jesus Christ was followed by His critics!

We would be foolishly naive to think that we can serve God in any capacity without being criticized. Yet when the Critic shows up, and he always does, we are shocked beyond belief! We are stunned that our hard work is torn apart by the razor sharp criticisms of someone who had no part in the task. We grieve as if in mourning that our motives are called into question when we know them to be pure. We are frustrated and angry that our obedience to God is ridiculed and condemned, not only by an ungodly world, but often times by “the brethren” themselves.

The truth is that we ARE going to face criticism sooner or later. There is absolutely no question about that! The only question is, “How are we going to respond to that criticism?”

In reality, we have absolutely no control over The Critic, yet when he rears his ugly head we focus all of our attention and energy upon him. We get angry; we defend ourselves; we enlist others to our side; we criticize the critic. Experience has taught me that this approach almost never hurts or hinders The Critic but it hurts and hinders me EVERY time!

As I study the lives of the great saints in the Bible and learn how they dealt with The Critic, I find a better way to handle them in my own life.

1. BE HONEST

In 2 Samuel 16, David found himself fleeing from Jerusalem with his family and friends. His son Absalom had begun a civil war against him and rather than fight against his own flesh and blood, David chose exile. As he fled with a broken heart he met up with a man named Shimei who cursed him and threw stones and dirt at David and his entourage. David’s loyal followers were outraged and wanted to kill Shimei right then and there. David’s response was astounding. Although he had the power and authority to issue the execution, he ordered his men to stand down. He said, “Let him alone, and let him curse; for the LORD hath bidden him.”

(To be honest that is never what I am thinking when I am facing The Critic or any of his kinfolk. I confess that I am a bit more like David’s friend who wanted to draw blood.)

David’s response showed both wisdom and maturity. In spite of the pain and humiliation he felt, he allowed God the opportunity to let the criticism refine him.

Sometimes when we are criticized we get so defensive that we never stop to ask if there is any truth to the criticism. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and actions and reveal to you if you are at fault, even in a small way! Perhaps this is why The Lord allowed The Critic into your life!

2. BE HUMBLE

David’s response to Shimei was not only Honest it was Humble. The truth is, you cannot have the one without the other. When we are dealing with The Critic, we easily get into “self-defense mode”. After all, our name, honor, integrity, truthfulness, and labor are being called into question.

But take a moment to consider that the first word in ‘self-defense’ is ‘self’. The whole matter discipleship is that we deny self and follow Christ. When we are defending self, we are no longer behaving as a disciple. Remember that we are taught to “Humble yourselves in the sight of The Lord and He will lift you up.”

3. BE HOLY

In I Samuel 25, David had another meeting with The Critic. There his name was Nabal. When David heard the outrageous and defaming things Nabal said, he gathered his men and went off with every intent to not only kill Nabal, but his entire household as well! He had not one Scripture that gave him that right but he was in self-defense mode and the Scripture that he loved was forgotten. Were it not for the wise counsel of Abigail, David would have committed murder!

Do not allow The Critic to become your justification to sin in word or in deed. Keep your heart and life right with God! The Lord taught us in Matthew 5: 10-12 and 38-48 to respond to those who hurt us by doing good to them and by praying for them. “Overcome evil with good!”

4. BE HEAVENLY-MINDED

We are taught in I Peter 2:19-25 to follow the example of Christ when we suffer for well-doing. When Christ was on the cross and faced with an entire horde of Critics, He did not return reviling for reviling or threat for threat. He simply turned the whole matter over to His Father, trusting Him to judge righteously.

I wonder if our overwhelming desire to ‘set everyone straight’ is nothing less than a lack of faith in our Heavenly Father to take care of us? This is perhaps the greatest danger of criticism in that it gets our eyes off of The Lord and on to ourselves or our critics!

5. BE HAPPY

James 1:2 says, “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.” The word ‘temptations’ refers to any type of tribulation and not just an enticement to do evil. As believers we are to see each trial as an opportunity to exercise our faith in the Lord’ person, power, and promises. Although the trial itself is not joyous, the testing of our faith is an opportunity to shine for Christ and to develop a golden faith! (I Peter 1:6-7)

Since the “joy of The Lord is your strength”, to allow any trial, including that of being criticized to steal that joy is to lose your strength! Though the trial is difficult, the truth of God and the promise of His grace to sustain us ought to cause us to “glory in tribulation” as Paul did in I Corinthians 12!

CONCLUSION: God’s way of handling The Critic is so different from man’s way that we often struggle with it. But to be honest, isn’t retaining your joy in The Lord and your testimony for Him so much better than living in anger and carnal behavior?

Once again, I wonder if our desire to set everyone, especiallyThe Critic, straight is nothing more than a lack of faith in God’s person, power, and promises?

We cannot stop The Critic from working, but through Christ we Can stop him from winning!

Written by Thomas E Bish

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