Criticism

* Much of criticism doesn’t focus on the real issue

People often argue over minor disagreements, leaving the real issue untouched.  Such was the case when Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses.  The real issue was their growing jealousy of Moses’ position and influence.  Since they could not find fault with the way Moses was leading the people, they chose to criticize his wife.  Rather than face the problem squarely by dealing with their envy and pride, they chose to create a diversion from the real issue with criticism.  When you are in a disagreement, stop and ask yourself if you are arguing over the real issue or if you have introduced a smoke screen by attacking someone’s character with criticism.  If you are unjustly criticized, remember that your critics may be afraid to face the real problem.  Don’t take the type of criticism personally.  Ask God to help you identify the real issue and deal with it. (NLT)

Numbers 12:1 – While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman.

* Have your facts straight before you criticize

A city that completely rejected God was to be destroyed so as not to lead the rest of the nation astray.  But Israel was not to take action against a city until the rumor about its rejecting God was proven true.  This guideline saved many lives when the leaders of Israel wrongly accused three tribes of falling away from their faith.  If we hear of friends who have wandered from the Lord or of entire congregations that have fallen away, we should check the facts and find the truth before doing or saying anything that could prove harmful.  There are times, of course, when God wants us to take action–to rebuke a wayward friend, to discipline a child, to reject false teaching–but first we must be sure we have all the facts straight. (NLT)

Deuteronomy 13:12-16 – “Suppose you hear in one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods.  In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully,  If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock.  Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it.  Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the Lord your God.  That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt.

* Reacting to unjust criticism

Hannah knew her husband loved her, but even his encouragement could not comfort her.  She could not keep from listening to Peninnah’s jeers and letting Peninnah’s words erode her self-confidence.  Although we cannot keep others from unjustly criticizing us, we can choose how we will react to their hurtful words.  Rather than dwelling upon our problems, we can enjoy the loving relationships God as given us.  By so doing, we can exchange self-pity for hope. (NLT)

1 Samuel 1:8 – “What’s the matter, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask.  “Why aren’t you eating?  Why be so sad just because you have no children?  You have me–isn’t that better than having ten sons?”

* Don’t let criticism stop you from serving God

Criticism couldn’t stop David.  While the rest of the army stood around, he knew the importance of taking action.  With God to fight for him, there was no reason to wait.  People may try to discourage you with negative comments or mockery, but continue to do what you know is right.  By doing what is right you will be pleasing God, whose opinion matters most. (NLT)

1 Samuel 17:28-32 – But when David’s oldest brother Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry, “What are you doing around here anyway?” he demanded.  “What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of?  I know about your pride and dishonesty.  You just want to see the battle!”

“What have I done now?” David replied.  “I was only asking a question!”  He walked over to some others and asked them the same thing and received the same answer.  Then David’s question was reported to King Saul, and the king sent for him.  “Don’t worry about a thing,” David told Saul.  “I’ll go fight this Philistine!” 

* Criticizing others for your own weaknesses

It was a year later, and by ten David had become so insensitive to his own sins that he didn’t realize he was the villain in Nathan’s story.  The qualities we condemn in others are often our own character flaws.  Which friends, associates, or family members do you find easy to criticize and hard to accept?  Instead of trying to change them, ask God to help you understand their feelings and see your own flaws more clearly.  You may discover that in condemning others, you have been condemning yourself. (NLT)

2 Samuel 12:5-6 – David was furious.  “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die!  He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.”

* Maintaining composure when criticized

Shimei kept up a steady tirade against David.  Although his curses were unjustified because David had had no part in Saul’s death, David and his followers quietly tolerated the abuse.  Maintaining your composure in the face of unjustified criticism can be a trying experience and an emotional drain, but if you can’t stop criticism, it is best just to ignore it.  Remember that God knows what you are enduring, and he will vindicate you if you are in the right. (NLT)

2 Samuel 16:5-14 – As David and his party passed Bahurim, a man came out of the village cursing them.  It was Shimei son of Gera, a member of Saul’s family.  He threw stones at the king and the king’s officers and all the mighty warriors who surrounded them.  “Get out of here, you murderer, you scoundrel!” he shouted at David.  “The Lord is paying you back for murdering Saul and his family.  You stole his throne, and now the Lord has given it to your son Absalom.  At last you will taste some of your own medicine, you murderer!”

“Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king?” Abishai son of Zeruiah demanded. “Let me go over and cut off his head!”

“No!” the king said.  “What am I going to do with you sons of Zeruiah!  If the Lord has told him to curse me, who am I to stop him?”  Then David said to Abishai and the other officers, “My own son is trying to kill me.  Shouldn’t this relative of Saul have even more reason to do so?  Leave him alone and let him curse, for the Lord has told him to do it.  And perhaps the Lord will see that I am being wronged and will bless me because of these curses.”  So David and his men continued on, and Shimei kept pace with them on a nearby hillside, cursing as he went and throwing stones at David and tossing dust into the air.  The king and all who were with him grew weary along the way, so they rested when they reached the Jordan River.

* Reproving those in authority

At times we must reprove those in authority over us.  Joab knew he was risking the king’s displeasure by confronting him, but he saw what had to be done.  Joab told David that there would be dreadful consequences if he didn’t commend the troops for their victory.  Joab’s actions are a helpful example to us when personal confrontation is necessary. (NLT)

2 Samuel 19:4-7 – The king covered his face with his hands and kept on weeping, “O my son Absalom!  O Absalom my son, my son!”

Then Joab went to the king’s room and said to him, “We saved your life today and the lives of your sons, your daughters, and your wives and concubines.  Yet you act like this, making us feel ashamed, as though we had done something wrong.  You seem to love those who hate you and hatethose who love you.  You have made it clear today that we mean nothing to you.  If Absalom had lived and ll of us had died, you would be pleased.  Now go out there and congratulate the troops, for I swear by the Lord that if you don’t not a single one of them will remain here tonight.  Then you will be worse off than you have ever been.”

Criticism for right reasons  

It is easy to point out someone else’s faults or sins.  Job’s friends accused him of sin to make him feel guilty, not to encourage or correct him.  If we feel we must admonish someone, we should be sure we are confronting that person because we live him, not because we are annoyed, inconvenienced, or seeking to blame him. (NLT)

Job 19:3-5 – Ten times now you have meant to insult me.  You should be ashamed of dealing with me so harshly.  And even if I have sinned, that is my concern, not yours.  You are trying to overcome me, using my humiliation as evidence of my sin,

* How do you react to criticism?

David says that being rebuked by a godly person is a kindness.  Nobody really likes criticism, but everybody can benefit from it when it is given wisely and taken humbly.  David suggested how to accept criticism: (1) Don’t refuse it, (2) consider it a kindness, and (3) keep quiet (don’t fight back).  Putting these suggestions into practice will help you control how you react to criticism, making it productive rather than destructive, no matter how it was originally intended. (NLT)

Psalm 141:5 – Let the godly strike me!  It will be a kindness!  If they reprove me, it is soothing medicine.  Don’t let me refuse it.

But I am in constant prayer against the wicked and their deeds.

* The last time a parent or a friend rebuked you, were you hurt, angry or defensive?  Learn a lesson from Simon and his reaction to what Peter told him.  He exclaimed, “Pray to the Lord for me.”  If you are rebuked for a serious mistake, it is for your good.  Admit your error, repent quickly, and ask for prayer. (NLT)

Acts 8:24 – “Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things won’t happen to me!”

* Learning from criticism 

Are you a mocker or a wise person?  You can tell by the way you respond to criticism.  Instead of replying with a quick put down or clever retort when rebuked, listen to what is being said.  Learn from your critics, this is the path to wisdom.  Wisdom begins with knowing God.  He gives insight into living because he created life.  To know God you must not just know the facts about him, you must have a personal relationship with him.  Do you really want to be wise?  Get to know God better and better. (NLT)

Proverbs 9:7-10 – Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get a smart retort.  Anyone who rebukes the wicked will get hurt.  So don’t bother rebuking mockers; they will only hate you.  But the wise, when rebuked, will love you all the more.  Teach the wise, and they will be wiser.  Teach the righteous, and they will learn more.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Knowledge of the Holy One results in understanding.

* – There is a great difference between the person who learns from criticism and the person who refuses to accept correction.  How we respond to criticism determines whether or not we grow in wisdom.  The next time someone criticizes you, listen carefully to all that is said.  You might learn something. (NLT)

Proverbs 19:25 – If you punish a mocker, the simpleminded will learn a lesson; if you reprove the wise, they will be all the wiser.

* How Jesus said to avoid criticism  & Magnifying others’ faults & excusing your own 

Jesus’ statement, “Stop judging,” is against the kind of hypocritical, judgmental attitude that tears others down in order to build oneself up.  It is not a blanket statement to overlook wrong behavior of others but a call to the discerning rather than negative.  Jesus said to expose false prophets, and Paul taught that we should exercise church discipline and trust God to be the final Judge. (NLT)

Matthew 7:1-5 – [Jesus said] “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged.  For others will treat you as you treat them.  Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged.  And whyworry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?  How can you think of saying, “Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?  Hypocrite!  First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”

* How criticism becomes hypocritical

Jesus doesn’t mean we should ignore wrongdoing, but we should not be so worried about others’ sins that we overlook our own.  We often rationalize our sins by pointing out the same mistakes in others.  What kinds of specks in others’ eyes are the easiest for you to criticize?  Remember your own “logs” when you feel like criticizing, and you may find that you have less to say. (NLT)

Luke 6:41 – [Jesus said] “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”

* Excusing your sinful actions while criticizing others’

Paul explained to the Jews that they needed to teach themselves, not others, by their law.  They knew the law so well that they had learned how to excuse their own actions while criticizing others.  But the law is more than a set of rules–it is a guideline for living according to God’s will.  It is also a reminder that we cannot please God without a proper relationship to him.  As Jesus pointed out, withholding what rightfully belongs to someone else is stealing, and anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has committed adultery with her in his heart.  Before we accuse others, we must look at ourselves and see if sin, in any form, exists within us. (NLT)

Romans 2:21-22 – Well then, if you teach others, why don’t you teach yourself?  You tell others not to steal, but do you steal?  You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you do it?  You condemn idolatry, but do you steal from pagan temples?

* Be affirming in criticism 

In this letter, Paul wrote some strong words to the Corinthians, but he began on a positive note of thanksgiving.  He affirmed their privilege of belonging to the Lord and receiving his generous gifts; the power to speak out for him and understand his truth.  when we must correct others, it helps to begin by affirming what God has already accomplished in them. (NLT)

1 Corinthians 1:4-6 – I can never stop thanking God for all the generous gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.  He has enriched your church with the gifts of eloquence and every kind of knowledge.  This shows that what I told you about Christ is true.

* Criticism must be motivated by love

Paul was calling attention to his special role as the Corinthians’ spiritual father.  In an attempt to unify the church, Paul appealed to his relationship with them.  by father, he meant he was the church’s founder.  Because he started the church, he could be trusted to have its best interests at heart.  Paul’s tough words were motivated by love–like the love a good father has for his children. (NLT)

1 Corinthians 4:15 – For even if you had ten thousand others to teach you about Christ, you have only one spiritual father.  For I became your father in Christ Jesus when I preached the Good News to you.

* Don’t be defensive when criticized 

It is difficult to be confronted with our sin and even more difficult to get rid of sin.  Paul praised the Corinthians for clearing up an especially troublesome situation.  Do you tend to be defensive when confronted?  Don’t let pride keep you from admitting your sins.  Accept correction as a tool for your growth, and do all you can to correct problems that are pointed out to you. (NLT)

2 Corinthians 7:11 – Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you!  Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish the wrongdoer.  You showed that you have done everything you could to make things right.

* Principles of confrontation

Sometimes rebuke is necessary, but it must be used with caution.  the purpose of any rebuke, confrontation, or discipline is to help people, not hurt them. (NLT)

Method – Reference

Be firm and bold – 2 Corinthians 7:9; 2 Corinthians 10:2

Affirm all you see that is good – 2 Corinthians 7:4

Be accurate and honest – 2 Corinthians 7:14; 2 Corinthians 8:21

Know the facts – 2 Corinthians 11:22-27

Follow up after the confrontation – 2 Corinthians 7:13; 2 Corinthians 2:14

Be gentle after being firm – 2 Corinthians 7:15; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13

Speak words that reflect Christ’s message, not your own ideas – 2 Corinthians 10:3; 2 Corinthians 10:12; 2 Corinthians 13; 2 Corinthians 12:19

Use discipline only when all else fails – 2 Corinthians 13:2 (NLT)

* Paul did not gain great popularity when he rebuked the Galatians for turning away from their first faith in Christ.  Human nature hasn’t changed much–we still get angry when we’re scolded.  But don’t write off someone who challenges you.  There may be truth in what he or she says.  Receive his or her words with humility; carefully think them over.  If you discover that you need to change an attitude or action, take steps to do it. (NLT)

Galatians 4:16 – Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth?

* How we become critical of others 

When we are not motivated by love, we become critical of others.  We stop looking for good in them and see only their faults.  Soon the unity of believers is broken.  Have you talked behind someone’s back?  Have you focused on others’ shortcomings instead of their strengths?  Remind yourself of Jesus’ command to love others as you love yourself.  When you begin to feel critical of someone, make a list of that person’s positive qualities.  If there are problems that need to be addressed, it is better to confront in love than to gossip. (NLT)

Galatians 5:14-15 – For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  But if instead of showing love among yourselves you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out!  Beware of destroying one another.

* Keep your conduct above criticism

You may not be able to keep people from speaking evil against you, but you can at least stop supplying them with ammunition.  As long as you do what is right, their accusations will be empty and only embarrass them.  Keep your conduct above criticism! (NLT)

1 Peter 3:16 – But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way.  Keep your conscience clear.  Then if people speak evil against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.

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