If you’ve lived long enough, you‘ve encountered criticism. Perhaps you’ve been hurt by the jabs, condescending remarks, and snide comments of others. Maybe someone has set herself up as the judge and jury over your life. She has unjustly evaluated your parenting techniques, your personal appearance, your personality traits, your motives, or your work performance. If this has happened, you know how hard it can be to get over it. Consider five biblical principles for facing criticism.
Remember what happened to Jesus.
When I’m maligned, I try to remember that the same thing happened to Jesus. Of course, Jesus never sinned, so no criticism against Him was ever justified. However, believers can still find comfort in the slandered Savior. Scripture says, “For since he himself has suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). Have you been hurt by the reckless words of another? Take your pain to Jesus. Tell Him how you feel. Ask Him to pour grace on your bruised and battered soul.
Remember your mission in life.
Have you ever wondered how Jesus stayed impervious to the darts of His foes? He had the ability to call down thousands of angels to rescue Him. What kept Him from lashing out? I think His mission in life helped Him stay grounded. Our Lord proclaimed, “ “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). Are you struggling with the sting of a smear campaign? Get your focus off what others have said about you, and get your focus on what God has called you to be.
Remember the consequences of responding badly.
You may be tempted to lash out at your critic. Press the pause button on that. Think about the fallout that may come from retaliation. Payback never pays off. Scripture says, “An offended brother is harder to reach than a fortified city, and quarrels are like the bars of a fortress” (Proverbs 18:19). A sinful response can produce painful consequences that remain for a long time. Think and pray before you react.
Remember your worth in Christ.
Why does criticism bother us so much? The problem often lies in our sense of self-worth. Because many of us find our worth in what others think of us, we are wrecked when they reject us. A remedy is found in finding your worth in Christ. When others betray you or reject you, remember that the Lord has adopted you into His family (Ephesians 1:5), filled you with His Spirit (Ephesians 1:13), given you a new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17), and guaranteed that you will live with Him in a perfect place forever (John 14:1-4). Don’t find your identity in what others say about you; find it in what God says about you.
Remember your need for improvement.
It’s often been said that every criticism contains a golden nugget of truth. Has another person shined a spotlight on one of your flaws? Don’t lose control. Stay grounded in Christ and let Him help you. Pray that He will mend up your weaknesses. Remain committed to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord” (2 Peter 3:18). If you do, you will have the privilege of using your critics’ attacks as a springboard for growth and glory for the Lord!