Read Ephesians 4:15
15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. (NLT)
Many of us know the feeling of dread when someone prefaces words to us with the phrase, I say this in love… What follows sometimes feels anything but loving. Indeed our critics can be savage, dragging us down into a pit where they themselves may happen to be. And cloaking harsh words with clichés about love doesn’t make it any easier.
But there is a place for criticism. Our text reminds us that speaking the truth in love is necessary for our growth to maturity. We can learn from our critics who may set us back on track or warn us against going off the track in the first place. Love and criticism can go together. Much depends on the state of heart of the critic.
Yet much also depends on the state of the heart of those of us at the receiving end. We need to realise that others have the right to be upset with us or disagree with us without our feeling rejected by them. Just because someone criticises me doesn’t mean they reject me. Just as I have the right to be upset with myself without rejecting my essential self. To be super-sensitive to criticism is to deny the possibility of growth to maturity; it makes true self-awareness very difficult.
We may not be able to dictate change in the heart of those who criticise us. But we are able to change our own hearts. We can’t stop others wrongly criticising us. We can stop ourselves taking criticism wrongly.