Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
No-one likes to be criticised. Criticism is one of those things we wish would go away. It’s annoying, and yet it’s here to stay So, why does everyone do it?
I’m talking about the unfair, uncalled for comments we make about somebody else, whether said behind their back or to their face, causes them to feel hurt, angry and upset. The old saying is true “when you point your finger at someone else you have three fingers in that hand pointing back at you”.
Criticism comes from judgment. How can we judge someone unless we have stood in their shoes, seen things through their eyes, and understood exactly all that they have been through in life?
You may have heard another saying “familiarity breeds contempt”, and we note how perfect strangers get treated with politeness and respect, but when relationships become more intimate, there is an acceptance of that which is familiar, and the bigger chance for rudeness and criticism.
“When you accept the reality of God’s will for you, you won’t fear what other people say or think of you. “
Of course, some criticism is justified, and we need to learn to take that, because no-one’s perfect, and we can learn from our mistakes. We deal with criticism in our lives in one form or other constantly. We give criticism and we receive criticism. We don’t always know what to do with criticism, because sometimes it comes from places that we don’t expect. We can be blindsided by criticism. We can also welcome criticism when we know it is meant to improve who we are.
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It is sad when children grow up in a home where they are constantly criticised. They can’t please Mum or Dad, and feel awkward around others and are afraid of new situations. This moves through to adulthood, and the feelings become hurtful, harmful, and destructive. We feel not good enough, have low self-esteem, and sometimes abandoned. Then there is real anger, resentment and even hatred towards the one who criticised us. No-one wants to be perceived as a failure, and it becomes a blockage, a real fear that causes many to hesitate and not live up to their true potential. Remember what Dale Carnegie used to say? Do the very best you can; and then put up your old umbrella and keep the rain of criticism from running down the back of your neck.
God’s Love Destroys the Fear of Criticism
I want to say this morning that embracing God’s love destroys this fear of criticism. When you accept the reality of God’s will for you, you won’t fear what other people say or think of you. Rather, you’ll be able to focus on life and what is going on around you. God’s love in you will create a new sense of security and confidence, that helps you live each day as He intends, free from the fear of others opinions.
Now, of course, no-one feels secure all the time. Everyone fears criticism sometimes – but it is possible to live a life that is generally characterised by freedom from the fear of criticism, so that we can love others in an open and transparent way.
The Bible says in Romans 8:31 “if God is on our side, can anyone be against us?” This was written by the apostle Paul who feared death frequently, and yet he was convinced Jesus had conquered all fears, and had died for him and everyone who ever lives, and this holds amazing implications for us. David had the same idea when he wrote in Psalm 188:6 – “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” David knew intense turmoil, criticism and unrest. He could write this from experience, because he knew God loved him, and in light of that, nothing else mattered. No one or nothing can be more powerful than God. And that means no level of criticism is too high to affect you. Don’t let it.
Jesus Knows the Feeling of Being Criticised
Jesus knew about criticism. Mark tells us how one day Jesus and his disciples were having a meal with tax collectors, and the religious teachers saw that He was eating with sinners and tax collectors – and they criticised Him. They failed to understand the work Jesus had to do, with ordinary people who needed a hand up in life, and yet He was rebuked and misunderstood. It was central to the life of Jesus that He mixed with and befriended ordinary people, called sinners. The Scribes & Pharisees often confronted Him head on, and demanded He leave. In Nazareth, His home town, he was criticised. Men despised and rejected Him; He was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. The Jews mocked Him, But Jesus never retaliated or sought revenge. He withstood the criticism and insults without taking matters into His own hands.
Jesus moved on showing grace and mercy – as we should when people criticise us. Maybe we can learn something and change our ways; but nonetheless remember God is the judge, not you. He will sort everything out in the end.