Six correct reactions to criticism

Criticism comes often in life. If you sit, they tell you to stand. If you stand, they say you should rest. Everyone seems to have an opinion about what you do, should do, and don’t do. They opine about how you do it, and how they think you could do it better. Normal life seems a no-win situation. What is the correct reaction?

I recently watched an interview with a young woman. She had posted something online. It was misunderstood, and bullying ensued. She was so hurt by the nasty things that were said that she had to get offline for a while.

Today’s trend is to feel victimized. I recently heard that the United Kingdom is discussing whether “online abuse” constitutes a crime. If it gains traction, a whole police task force will be needed to deal with negative words.

I’ve written before about abusive language, hate speech, and God’s law of kindness. You may want to read my posts here and here. But this post is about reactions to it.

What is the correct reaction to criticism?

First, we’ll look at wrong reactions:

  • AngerLet all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice (Ephesians 4:31). But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice.… (Colossians 3:8a)
  • RevengeDearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord (Romans 12:19). For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people (Hebrews 10:30).
  • Dwelling on the hurtFinally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things (Philippians 4:8).

Here are six correct reactions:

  1. PrayerBe careful (full of care, anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
  2. Apologizing, if necessary—Sometimes the fault is mutual. If you need to repent to the other person, do so. Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him (Luke 17:3).
  3. Reporting crimes to the proper authorities—Unfortunately, in Christian circles, the tendency has been to sweep crimes under the carpet along with verbal assaults and sins. If the suffered hurt was actually a threat or crime, it should be reported to police. Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.… For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil (Romans 13:1, 4).
  4. ForgivingThen came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22).
  5. Moving forward—Leave the junk of the past in the past. The Apostle Paul said, One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:13b-14).
  6. Not revisiting old hurts—One of Satan’s best weapons against Christians is encouraging them towards wrong thinking. Once you have dealt with a hurt in a biblical manner (above), you can put it behind you. When that hurt pops into your mind again, dismiss it. There are two ways to do this. One is learning Philippians 4:8 thinking (passage above). The other is to discipline our thoughts through the power of God. (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

So many Christians today experience defeat in their lives because someone hurt them. Yes, the hurt was real and deep. We should not minimize it or brush it aside.

It must be dealt with correctly so the Christian can move forward in victory.

Jesus said, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10b).

God bless you and help you overcome.

I have the weirdest superpower

When I read about other people’s superpowers, I usually crack up. But I have friends with serious superpowers, too: teaching, showing mercy, organizing, “keeping kids alive,” cooking, blitz cleaning, etc. I admire every one of these ladies!

And then, there are the more unique friends: One’s hand tendons roll. Another completely flops his tongue upside down. My family can raise one eyebrow very high. Superpowers tend to be quirky, silly, and frankly … who cares?

Mine is special.

And, it’s just as weird as other people’s.

I smell things.

You might smell things, too, but probably not like I do.

I actually smell things when I see a photo.

  • Bread? Yummm.
  • Lilacs? Sweet.
  • Gumbo? Smell the shrimp and spices.
  • Roses? Those, too.
  • Gas pumps. I smell the fumes.
  • Lemons or chocolate? Yes, quite a visceral reaction.

It’s really crazy when I browse Pinterest, since photographs trigger a genuine smell reaction.

Maybe the connection between my nose and my mind has rewired. I never heard of anyone else with my goofy gift. It’s true. And yes, sometime’s I think I’m bonkers.

Did you know that God recognizes smells, too?

The priests in the Old Testament burned special incense, a recipe mandated by God Himself. It was so special that it couldn’t be used for anything except worship. And the LORD said unto Moses, Take unto thee sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum; these sweet spices with pure frankincense: of each shall there be a like weight: And thou shalt make it a perfume, a confection after the art of the apothecary, tempered together, pure and holy: And thou shalt beat some of it very small, and put of it before the testimony in the tabernacle of the congregation, where I will meet with thee: it shall be unto you most holy (Exodus 30:34-36).

The incense burned, and the smoke of it covered the mercy seat that is upon the testimony (Leviticus 16:12-13).

God was pleased with this perfumed smoke in the air.

It was a complete sensory experience for the high priest, too. The gold, silver, brass, beautifully embroidered curtains, colors, and blood and fire filled his vision. Little bells tinkled in his ears—the bells that let those outside know he was still alive and moving around in the Holy of Holies. The cloud of incense billowed over the Mercy Seat as he made the sprinkled blood offering to cover the sins of the people for another year.

David said, Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice (Psalm 141:2).

In the New Testament, the prayers of God’s people actually become perfume in heaven. What a concept! Our prayers smell sweet to God.

And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints (Revelation 5:8).

And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand (Revelation 8:3-4).

I wonder how many sweet puffs of perfume I sent up today.

How about you?

What on earth does “godly” mean?

What does it mean to be godly?

Have you ever met a person who exudes godliness? What was that person like?

  • I remember years ago meeting some elderly people who embodied peace and joy. Is that godliness?
  • I had the privilege to meet a Romanian woman who had been put in jail and had suffered for Christ in many ways. She was peaceful, calm, and God’s power was manifested in a frail body. Was that godliness?
  • I inwardly criticized someone for refusing to stand up to his critics, for seeming weak and being sweet. Later, I realized that he was Christ-like, not me. Is that godliness?
  • In the Bible, women are supposed to immitate those women who profess godliness in their dress, actions, and lifestyle (1 Timothy 2:9-10). What kind of women are they?

So, what’s godliness? What does it mean to be godly?

I found a definition that was basically conforming to God’s wishes and laws, but frankly, I think godliness means much more than that.

Godliness begins with belonging to the Lord. It also is about being set apart—actually living to please God. It’s a life purpose. But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him (Psalm 4:3).

How can we achieve true godliness? Do we merely adjust our virtual haloes and soldier on? Do we fake it ’til we make it?

How does it happen?

It doesn’t happen overnight. Godliness is a result of the process of sanctification—what God does in our lives as we grow in Him. Most Christians take years to be conformed into the image of Christ.

Salvation begins to teach us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (Titus 2:12). Notice that first we need to deny ungodliness and sinful desires. We put away the bad stuff and add the good: sober living, righteousness, godliness.

Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers has this to say about living soberly, righteously and godly: “In these three terms the blessed life our Lord would have His own to lead on earth is summed up—to ourselves, to our neighbour, and to our God. The first, “soberly,” to ourselves—wisely and temperately, keeping ever a mastery over our passions; the second, “righteously”—justly and honourably, having due regard to our duty towards our neighbour; the third, “godly”—piously, ever remembering to live as in the presence of the Eternal.”

Living in the consciousness of God’s presence takes practice, discipline, and Christian growth.

The Lord describes this process this way: According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue … And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity (2 Peter 1:3, 6-7).

The power to be godly comes from God. He has called us to holiness. We can add virtues to our lives, one of them being godly—through His power.

The Bible says we need to follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness (1 Timothy 6:11b).

One of the characteristics I’ve seen in godly people is a beautiful presence. It’s almost as if their faces radiate the Lord—reflecting Him. They smile. They’re calm, peaceful, and humble. They serve others. And, when they speak, wisdom speaks. They walk with God and know the Bible. It’s wonderful to be acquainted with people who are truly godly.

I want to be like that.

Follow after … godliness.

The New Crack: Internet addiction

It depends on where you get your statistics, but one source I consulted1 gave these as the percentages of Internet addicted people by age group:

  • 13-17  75%
  • 18-24  71%
  • 35-44  50%
  • 45-54  40%
  • 55-64  39%
  • 65+  44%

Depending on the age, nearly half of the population is addicted to Internet use. Does that shock you?

What are we talking about when we use the word addicted? Techopedia2 defines it as “a mental condition characterized by excessive use of the Internet, usually to the detriment of the user. Addiction is generally understood to be a mental disorder involving compulsive behavior.” Just so we know what we’re talking about, compulsive means it’s an irresistable urge, compelling.

Years ago, before the Internet was such a big thing, the problem was the television. A lot of people have it on all day, from morning to night. I was babysitting some children so that their parents could go away for a couple of days. In the morning, one of the children came downstairs in his pajamas, and the first thing he said was, “Where’s the remote?” Not “Good morning,” not “Hello,” but “Where’s the remote?” I assured him we would indeed see something after breakfast and getting dressed but not now, and it wouldn’t be TV at all, but a video. He was not happy.

Internet addiction actually changes the way we think. We get used to processing little bits of information here and there, and our brains actually change the synapses and start to think in a different manner.1 We forget how we used to think.

Kids and adults alike can’t live without their phones.

I remember taking some teen girls to fabulous places here in Spain. One of them even had her phone at the table at dinnertime. She was constantly checking her phone, texting, and communicating with everyone else. She was, frankly, antisocial to the people around her while being social to her friends on the other side of the “pond.” When she was shown an amazing sight, she’d “wake up” for enough time to take a couple of pictures and instantaneously send them off into the ether. She’d continue to text again until being verbally prompted to take in another sight—which meant taking a couple more fast pictures. The whole time she was with us was spent on her phone. We had no meaningful conversations.

Contrast that with other young people who visited us. They had their phones with them, of course, but during the day, they were used only as cameras. These kids looked around, soaked in the beauty, and took pictures. Their visits were graced with some wonderful conversations about what really matters in life. We bonded in a special way. It was a blessing to be together.

Everyone knows Internet addiction is a real issue. Many of us suffer from Internet dependence. We have an automatic, compelling urge to be online … and it’s not good.

Why?

The Bible tells us we’re supposed to meditate on God’s Word day and night. How can anyone do that if a screen connection is screaming for his attention?

  • This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success (Joshua 1:8).
  • But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night (Psalm 1:2). 

The Bible also instructs us to do something else all the time: pray. We’re supposed to be in communication with the Lord all the time. How can anyone pray when his attention is somewhere else?

  • And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive (Matthew 21:22).
  • Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41).
  • Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

If we really desire to do God’s will, we need to disconnect. Does that seem radical? How can we do this? Let’s be practical.

No smartphones (or tablets) for school children. Why would a child need the Internet at all, anyhow? He can do research on a regular computer where Mom and Dad can see him. If he needs a phone with him in order to contact his parents, there are some cute phones on the market. Kids can use them to make parent approved phone calls. They can fast dial their parents. Children do not need to be connected. It is not good for them. Their minds need to be switched on for school, to learn, think, and play. An Internet connection for little kids only leaves them open to bullying, sexting, porn, and preditors. Besides those, addiction is a problem for about 70% of kids. That should scare you.

Schedule disconnected times. Start with meals. No phones at the table, not during the meal or afterwards, when the family is sharing together. No phones at all at the table—not for parents or children.

Family vacations are phone free—unless the phone is used as a camera.

The principle of substitution is all through Scripture. Instead of bad, we substitute good. I know the Internet can be used for good, and I sincerely strive to do that myself. But, it can also be addictive.

Ask the Lord to govern your online time. Determine when and where you will allow yourself to be online. Put your phone on vibrate, and answer it only when necessary.

Spend some time in Scripture to help you determine your priorities.

  • For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:20).
  • Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
  • Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).
  • I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth (1 Corinthians 16:15-16).
  • Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:11).

The Bible wants us to be controlled by the Spirit—not the Internet—and addicted to the ministry. What awesome goals!

1. https://brandongaille.com/32-interesting-internet-addiction-statistics/

2. https://www.techopedia.com/definition/15454/internet-addiction

Image by Анастасия Гепп from Pixabay

Attitude Schmattitude!

Attitude is probably the biggest battleground for women. How many times do we think of a smarty little comeback? How many times do we make rude snap judgments? How about grumbling?

We have a hard time with the law of kindness1, don’t we? At least in our heads.

Has someone—maybe your child, husband, or parent—asked you do do something, and your first reaction is, Can’t he see I’m busy? Have you balked? Have you thought negatively about that person? Oh my! I remember being interrupted in reading (which I was always doing) when I was a young teen and having a rebellious spirit. How could my parent ask something of me when I was reading?!!!

How about when someone takes advantage of you? What’s your reaction? Count it all joy?2 Suffer the hurt? Absorb the loss?

And, when people revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for Jesus’ sake3,do you react like a victorious Christian? Do you forgive? Do you treat them kindly anyhow? Or, do you simmer inside?

Attitude is important. It reveals our heart.

Romans 12:10-31 is one of those passages we all would do well to study: Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

This is the Christian way. This sets us apart from the rest of the world.

Today’s philosophy goes completely opposite this teaching. Venting, fighting back, vengeance, looking out for number one, self-this and self-that, anger, strife, divisiveness…. The list goes on.

The Bible way is truly amazing: For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (1 Peter 2:19-21).

The Christian is literally a “Christ follower.” Jesus is God, and God is holy. But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (lifestyle). 1 Peter 1:15

What’s your attitude?

What’s mine?

Does it please the Lord?

  • 1. From Proverbs 31:26
  • 2. From James 1:2
  • 3. From Matthew 5:11