I don’t know of anyone who longs to be criticized…not because we have all had bad experiences when it comes to being criticized, it is just one of those things that no one really enjoys! No one has to teach us not to like it - is kind of like eating beets - you don’t have to taste them to realize you don’t like them; there is just something in you that thinks, “These can’t taste very good!” This is how it is with criticism - none of us like it and many times it is given in a sinful, flesh driven, or even cowardly way that hurts to the core. Nevertheless, it is a way of life for almost everyone. It comes from the coach who wants the athlete to get better; it comes from the fan who wants his team to win; it comes from the commentator who is paid to nitpick and encourages other guys to call in and voice their opinion. But, it doesn’t start and stop in the sports arena does it? It doesn’t matter if it is an overreaching mother or mother-in-law, or a boss that is difficult… It can come from a loving parent or an abusive parent. It can help you, or hurt you deeply. If you have been a teacher, preacher, nursery worker, usher, piano player, soundman, light man, air condition controller or practically anything else, you have found that the church is certainly not immune to this. However, when the church is healthy and conducts itself the way Matthew 18 tells us to, criticism can be life giving. There is a classic work in the Christian life entitled The Reformed Pastor by Richard Baxter and, obviously by the title, he is speaking to Pastors…but I think this has application to all of us:
Because there are many eyes upon you, therefore there will be many observers of your falls. If other men may sin without observation, so cannot you. And you should thankfully consider how great a mercy this is, that you have so many eyes to watch over you, and so many ready to tell you of your faults, and so have greater helps than others, at least for the restraining of your sin. Though they may do it with a malicious mind, yet you have the advantage by it.*
Let me tell you…if you name the name of Christ, there are probably people waiting to do the enemy’s bidding and will step in to be your accuser. Need I remind all of us, that it is a good thing to have eyes upon us? Even when the criticism comes with malicious intent, we should thank our Lord that it enables us to stand strong! It reminds us that if we fail, we first and foremost do damage to God being glorified in our lives, but secondly we give the heathen reason to rejoice. So, I encourage you, and I, to be faithful to our Father - use the enemy’s minions to drive you closer to Calvary and not as an excuse to harbor bitterness. Our God truly is greater and truly is stronger! Thank Him for that!