Updated: Jun 24, 2021
by Pastor Cory
Many years ago, I sat down at my computer to reply to a critical letter I had received. I toiled and labored over my reply. I wrote words, I deleted words. I wrote sentences, I deleted and wrote new sentences. It took me over an hour of frustrating and exhausting work to carefully state a decent response to the letter. At the end of the hour, I reread it I still was not totally satisfied with my answer.
I ended up reaching out to my boss and friend, Ron Corzine, and he helped correct my mistake, and it’s a valuable lesson that I hope will benefit you too. He informed me, that my mistake wasn’t in my response, so much as it was that I took the time to respond. I had painstakingly spent an entire hour writing a letter to a critic when I could have invested the same hour in writing a dozen notes of love and appreciation to those who have believed in me and supported me. One drained me of energy, while the other could have energized me. One was going to fall on deaf ears, while the other would have uplifted many.
Scripture tells us in Proverbs 14:7, to
“Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips.”
And yet, how often do we ignore the confidence God has in us, and the friends who are there for us, to listen to the one individual who thinks they know our life better than we do? Sadly, most critical people are usually disheartened and disillusioned people who have failed to reach their own desired goals. They are hurting inside and so build their life by trying to bring down or destroy others.
Critics are spectators (or posers), not players. They simply sit on the sidelines or in the stands and pose, as someone who always knows what others should be doing. I once heard someone say, “Criticism is the death gargle of a non-achiever.” Ouch, right? But think about it, there has never been a monument built to a critic! And the truth is, you owe nothing to a critic. The Bible even tells us in Proverbs 23:9, to
“Speak not in the ears of a fool, for he will despise the wisdom of your words.”
Don’t get me wrong, debate is a marvelous arena. There should always be a time and place to present facts, from both sides, a time for an exchange of information. If we fail to hear both sides, we’ll never find common ground. We learn and grow in areas that we were previously ignorant in, through this exchange. Champions always pursue constructive correction. But recognizing the difference between correction & criticism is paramount. Arguing back with a critic is usually time wasted on a made up mind.
Think about this, Jesus never wasted time answering critics. When Jesus was being ridiculed and prepared for His crucifixion, He was silent. The scripture says Jesus held His peace (Matthew 26:63). Jesus did not feel obligated to answer his critics. He never wasted time on people who were obviously trying to trap Him. He responded to hunger and thirst. He responded to seekers.
Criticism will point out your flaws. Correction will point out your potential. Criticism is deadly. Correction is life giving. Take the time to recognize the difference. One will drain you, while the other will build you up. Jesus ignored the critics... you may need to do the same.