the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.
Criticism, have you experienced it? Most of us have, or will, at some point in our lives. Maybe some of us even deal closely with a critic. Their words are cutting, often stinging the soul like poison does the body. The dread and anticipation that swells up within a person before an encounter with a critic can make a sane person feel crazy.
You know the type, don’t you? They are always pointing out the flaws of others – making certain that all around know and hear of the flaws they are picking out. Often on the heels of criticizing another person, the critic flaunts their own perfection in that area or skill. No one does more, better, faster, or quicker than the critic themself. There is no way other than the critic’s way that can possibly be right or achieve desirable results.
Put down, after put down, after put down. A critic makes the people around them feel as though they are incapable of doing the right thing, doing a good thing, or even attaining a small measure of success.
Where a critic could use their influence to lead up and build up, they instead tear down and shove away. They make those around them feel smaller and less significant than they did before the encounter with the critic.
If you bite and devour each other, watch out for you will be destroyed by each other. Galatians 5:15 NIV
How easy it is to bite back at the critic, isn’t it? Their sharp words often bring out the sharpness in our own tongues. But the Bible tells us that a gentle answer turns away wrath.
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. Proverbs 15:1-2
In fact, reading through the book of Proverbs, it is clear that our words have power. So why would a person choose the be a critic? I’ve started wondering if it is second nature to some. If it comes naturally because of the criticism they’ve endured. The root of criticism is often pride.
Aside from urging you to pray, pray, pray, I haven’t a word of advice for how to help the critic in your life be less critical. Whether they are aware of the effect they are having on the people around them, or are oblivious to it, they have to come to a place where they want to soften their heart and give up pointing out the flaws of others. Until they do, people will often react defensively, walk on eggshells around them, and keep them at a distance to avoid being poisoned by their shaming words.
Here are a few steps you can take to protect your heart and mind from criticism – whether from a loved one, a stranger, or a bully on the internet. First and foremost, know who you are in Christ, know your worth. You are worth dying for, according to our Creator.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16
Keep a clear conscience. Don’t allow the critics words to become your own. Set the right example in how you speak to others. Build others up in Christ. Work on the board in your own eye and most importantly, pray like crazy. A critic’s heart can be won over by the grace and love of Jesus shining through you. It may take a long time and a lot of prayers and a lot of tears, but it is possible.
I urge you, brothers and sisters, that while you may need to enforce healthy boundaries to give yourself times of rest from the criticism, don’t give up on the critics. I am convinced that their outlook on the world, from that stuffy, prideful place, is actually quite bleak and their hope is naught. Show them real hope, show them real love, and let God do the work of growing the seeds He has trusted you to plant.
Remember, you choose to pick apart the faults, failures, and fears of the people around you, or you take the opportunity to notice the good, point out the success, speak life, and build others up.
Don’t grow weary in doing good.