Sunday, February 25, 2018

Are you criticizing me?

To learn, you must want to be taught. To refuse reproof is stupid. (Proverbs 12:1 TLB)

"The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism." (Norman Vincent Peale) The ruin of many a good man or woman began with the downward spiral of the heart's push and pride's pull! There is no greater battle some of us have than to remain teachable when we get to the point of having a little knowledge. As we have all heard at some point in life, a little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing - it can launch us down paths we might regret later on. I have a little knowledge of plumbing, but I am not a plumber. I have a little knowledge about car engines, but I could not keep one running today because the technology under the hood mystifies me. The knowledge we possess isn't always the thing that saves us - it can be the very thing that the heart uses to push us into pride's path and that certainly can be a very slippery slope!

While none of us appreciates criticism, there are times when we each need to hear the truth others observe about our behavior. It may not be really "wrong behavior" so much as it may be behavior that is keeping us from being our best in Christ. It may be something that is limiting our growth because pride closes door to growth more than it opens them! Praise is far more palatable than criticism, but when we receive criticism in the spirit of a 'what can I learn from this' mindset, we are more likely to lean into that criticism as an opportunity to respond differently the next time. It might surprise you to hear that YOU are not the best judge of your actions - others see us in ways we find it almost impossible to see ourselves. This is the power of having others in our lives that aren't afraid to speak truth into our lives - even when it isn't always the things we want to hear about ourselves!

The 'full truth' isn't always going to be about the 'good stuff' in life. In scripture, God sometimes had to confront people quite abruptly about their sinfulness, didn't he? He didn't mince words at times, because the fact of the matter is that truth needed to be seen. Jesus often confronted the religious leaders with words that showed exactly where they stood - such as when he called them whitewashed sepulchres. He was saying all their 'finery' of religious robes and even all the 'out front' religious talk didn't make them really righteous at the center of their being. It was all for show. Did you realize the original meaning of the sepulchre was a tomb? He was saying all their religious actions amounted to no more than 'dead actions'. Yup, the truth can hurt at times, but when it comes from the heart of one that loves us more than words can describe, the truth may hurt, but it also can heal! Just sayin!