A gospel-centered response to criticism


“That’s a bad idea! How could you think of something that awful?”

“That’s a pretty good job. But you know, if you just did this one part a little bit more carefully, it would be really great.”

“That stinks!”

“That is not what I told you to do.”

“Well, maybe next time you’ll do better.”

The five examples of criticism listed above are painful to read and even more painful to hear. Hearing someone’s unkind and unfair criticism does indeed present a trial and a challenge.

From a gospel-centered perspective your first thought when you receive unfair criticism should focus on how you can return good for evil—because this is what God has done for you. God has not treated you as your sins deserve. This is how he wants you to respond to unfair criticism. The flesh cries out for a quick comeback that puts the critical speaker in his place. God calls you to give grace instead of anger.  Self-centered anger calls for a quick, witty put-down. In contrast, the Holy Spirit says that a soft answer turns away wrath.

If your habit is to bristle at criticism, you will seldom recognize the value of a rebuke. James says that you should be quick to listen and slow to speak. Even if a particular criticism seems unwarranted, you would be wise to consider whether there may be something in the criticism that you should consider. In any event, a quick, cutting response is not one that displays the beauty of the gospel. This is an important point to consider as you work at being a Christ-like example to your children. If you do not model the grace of Christ’s love in your conversations, who will?

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