Criticism: How To Speak It, How To Listen To It

By S. Leonard Tyler

We seem to listen at times with a corrective, critical, or belittling attitude rather than a seeking, learning, admiring, and appreciative disposition. Criticism has her rightful place in studying God’s word. But criticism does not stand at the top of the ladder. It is not the most valued asset in teaching or learning.

Faults must be willingly corrected by the person committing them. You and I (if we are not the guilty party) should strive diligently, tenderly, patiently, and prayerfully to help the stumbling one understand his or her blunder that correction may be made voluntarily to regain the footing and to be more perfectly informed.

We must refrain from exhibiting “the judge of all spirits” attitude or making a special display of our great wisdom. Humility is still a characteristic quality of a Christian. Wisdom is manifested not only in a demonstration of how much one knows and how confident one is in it. It is also demonstrated in consideration and true concern for truth, for the person involved, and for the situational environment or circumstances involved in the problem. The person we wish to criticize is trying even though he blundered, so let’s help him rather than belittle him.

May God help all of us (for we so much need it) to be interested in being right-truthfully right-and to remember the purpose in helping others is to encourage them to understand wherein the error is made and how to correct it for good We should never assume the mistake to be intentional nor fall into a soft, compromising attitude to by-pass the firmness of right. We must restrain ourselves from exhibiting an opinionated or self-centered disposition. Let’s cultivate more consideration and love for God, truth, righteousness, and those involved in problems-the stumblers, the erring. Then be sure that our efforts are to help restore the fallen, to encourage the erring to regain the right position, and to strengthen the weak. Now we will be able to lovingly approach the task. I believe, if each of us will manifest this attitude, we will accomplish more, be happier and more content in life, and become a living example to others. We shall prove our honest desire in serving God first and in casting the beam out of our own eye, and then tenderly working to help remove the mote from our brother’s life.

We must never forget that we are all in this together, seeking eternal salvation. We need all the help we can get, as well as offering help. We must graciously and thankfully receive the help offered and, in turn, unselfishly give liberally of what we have with grace.

The Lord loves a cheerful giver. But he who receives graciously with no feeling of humiliation and who shows appreciation for whatever criticism others offer (even though it appears to be wrapped carefully in false evaluation) may indeed make the greatest gift of all to those in need of a stable, mature Christian to sustain them. In other words, our attitude in receiving criticism may actually help the critic.

If we really want to prove ourselves true, we must be mature and stable enough to maintain a righteous disposition in the face of criticism, temptation, trials, and opposition of all sorts regardless of origin, purpose, and manner of appearance (Matt. 5:10-12; Rom. 12:17-18; Jas. 1:12). Keep thyself right by being right in desire, love, purpose, and above all in practice. In so doing, you shall prove yourself a true child of God-fit for the Master’s use. Indeed, you will be a vessel of honor with a definite place in the kingdom of God (2 Tim. 2:21-22).

Guardian of Truth XXIX: 16, p. 486
August 15, 1985