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:
- Anger—Let 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)
- Revenge—Dearly 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 hurt—Finally, 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:
- Prayer—Be 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).
- 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).
- 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).
- Forgiving—Then 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).
- 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).
- 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.