Handling Criticism

“And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners”” (Mark 2:16)?

Jesus was in like manner tempted in the way that we are today. In fact, Jesus faced constant criticism and even condemnation from religious leaders. The religious leaders of Jesus’s time were so offended by him that they did not stop until they found an excuse to kill him. My father often says that if you don’t want people to criticise you, then don’t do anything of significance. People very seldom criticise people who aren’t doing anything important.

James said that we should count it all Joy when we meet trials of different kinds. “Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]” (James 1:2-3). Other versions say that when our faith is tested, it leads to patience or perseverance. Imagine that being tested can lead to developing inner peace? I believe that trials submitted to God, leads to peace and endurance. This is as the Holy Spirit works to renew our minds and provides comfort and assurance. Criticism is a form of persecution especially when people criticise those things that are of significance to us.

There are a few things that we need to consider when we are criticised. (1) Who is the person levying the criticism and do they have the strength of character to criticise you? In other words, we should place greater emphasis on the words of people who are significant to us and those people who we respect. (2) Is there any truth to the criticism and can you benefit from reflecting on what was said? (3) What is the aim of the critique? (4) Was the person offering the critique trying to hurt your feelings or were they aiming to help you?

The reality is that we will not go through life without being criticised by someone. I believe that when you are doing anything of significance, then this is likely to attract criticism. We have to gain our significance and our sense of self from God and what his word says about us. When we are secure in the love of God, then what other people say will not be as important.

A.P.-Y.

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