By David ReayTuesday 19 Jan 2021LifeWords Devotionals
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God (NRSV)
As I considered entering ordained ministry in the church, I went to see a man who was an examining chaplain. His job was to check out my suitability. The first question he asked me was how I responded to being criticised. Seemed like a surprising question, but over years I came to see his point.
None of us can escape criticism. As our text reminds us, part of life in the Christian community is to admonish or rebuke one another. Of course it is assumed it must be done constructively, but what about those who are on the receiving end of such admonition?
Some believe everything critical that is said about them. It reinforces their own forlorn self-image. But our critics may be mistaken, even if they have our interests at heart. Sometimes we need to respectfully disagree with the rebuke being offered. Both Jesus and Paul rejected some criticism directed at them.
Others just want to hit back. Any criticism threatens their rather fragile self-worth. They believe that their imperfections mean they are fatally flawed individuals. They conclude their critics are out to get them. This is sadly mistaken: we can learn a lot from our loving critics.
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Best to carefully listen and prayerfully evaluate. Respectful disagreement with the criticism can lead to a greater degree of understanding. Humble acceptance of the criticism can lead to growth and healing. Even if it hurts.