Criticism can be difficult because it can be easily interpreted as an indictment on your competence and worth.
Last week I wrote about one idea in Amy Baker’s book on perfectionism and now i want to share and expand on another of her thoughts. Baker gives this tip for handling criticism: start with what God says about you, not what someone else says.
This reality can be a tough reminder because Psalm 14:2-3 says,
“The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”
Now wait–why is this the verse offered and not something we might think is more uplifting? Here’s the point: God’s assessment of us is the most damning criticism we will ever receive, yet He has graciously made the way of forgiveness and freedom possible when we go to Him in forgiveness (see Amy Baker’s book, Picture Perfect, pg. 134).
Unlike some who just see our faults and condemn us, God sees who we really are and still sent His Son to pay the price for our sins (Romans 5:8). With that in mind, we can listen to criticism and not be completely crushed because we have hope since we will not stand in ultimate judgement before any earthly critic but before a loving God.
This is the message of Romans 14:10: “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God”. Constructive criticism is possible and helpful, but I’m referring to destructive criticism in this post, which is what is in view in Romans 14:10. Some can’t seem to refrain from criticising for reasons that might be the topic of another post, but the focus here is on your response to criticism. The command to not pass judgment on your brother is rooted in the fact that we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. In other words, be more concerned about God’s judgment than man’s.
It is wise to listen for any truth in criticism and to repent of any sin if present. But let criticism stir you to a greater understanding of your worth by realizing that the One who truly knows you inside and out doesn’t hold that over you but chooses to forgive through Christ (Romans 8:1) and offer life to its fullest (John 10:10).