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“Staring Down the Critic’s Barrel!” Proverbs 9: 7-10 Key verse(s): 8b:“. . . rebuke a wise man and he will love you.”

The Bible tells us that “rebuke a wise man and he will love you.” Love? What happened to getting the emotional revenge that is so satisfying? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of room in that statement for pride, is there? In fact, being made to look the dummy seems like an invitation to wisdom. That’s something that doesn’t square real well with the world or our own self-esteem. It almost sounds like it would be better to be meek and withdrawing when others criticize us. In fact, if you are one of those people who are not “quick on the trigger” when others start shooting criticism your way, are you blessed? Perhaps. While it is never good to respond to anyone when we don’t have full command of our senses, it doesn’t mean that we should empty ourselves out completely and allow that criticism to fill us up to overflowing. There is a process of assimilation that can help.

Several years ago I read a helpful article on the subject of receiving and benefitting from criticism. If you can keep this process in mind even when bitter criticism is being leveled at you, you may find it easier to bear up and certainly less recriminating when you consider the criticism down the road. It stated that when we are criticized we ought to ask ourselves whether the criticism contains any truth. If it does, we should learn from it, even when it is not given with the right motivation and in the right spirit. The article then offered these four suggestions: (1) Commit the matter instantly to God, asking Him to remove all resentment or counter-criticism on your part and teach you the needed lessons. (2) Remember that we are all great sinners and that the one who has criticized us does not begin to know the worst about us. (3) If you have made a mistake or committed a sin, humbly and frankly confess it to God and to anyone you may have injured. (4) Be willing to learn afresh that you are not infallible and that you need God’s grace and wisdom every moment of the day to keep on the straight path.

When we are criticized, it’s good to accept what is true and act upon it, thereby becoming a stronger person. And, as the proverb says, “instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still.” Isn’t that every Christian’s goal? Give me more of that wisdom and if criticism is one of the best ways of getting more of it, “bring it on!” I remember a worship dialog from Don Moen’s “God With Us!” that has...

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