Honest words can be painful, but what do your criticisms amount to? (Job 6:25).
Have you, like me, ever had a person in your life who in many ways is a friend, but is also your toughest critic? If so, do you wonder how to respond properly to this person?
In my case, I know my friend means well, but she often forcefully sends critical comments without seeking my consent to receive her insights. With that in mind, I so appreciate how Paul pursued the consent of his friend Philemon (Philemon 1:14).
When my “frenemy” sent me an unsolicited email a few weeks ago, listing my faults and suggesting that I have only two areas of giftedness, naturally I was upset. Yet, rather than praying and asking God how to handle the insults, I did a Google search. I looked up “bully” and other synonyms that I felt described my overbearing, highly opinionated friend.
It was easy to find words and articles to confirm that my friend was speaking inappropriately to me, but I was still left without a solution. So I called a wise friend. She suggested that instead of turning to the Internet, I turn to God. “Ask the Lord to help you filter the letter,” she said. “Ask Him to help you cling to what is true and expose the lies. Ask God if the enemy is trying to tap into lies you believe about yourself through your friend’s letter.”
Her advice reiterated the proverb that states, “Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket” (Proverbs 25:11). It’s good for us to listen to advice (v.12), but we should ask God to help us discern whether or not the criticism is valid. If our messenger is trustworthy, even if the message brings conviction and points out areas where we need change, it will yield refreshment (v.13).
Make sure you gain permission before bringing criticism to a friend.
What do you think is the difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism? (See Proverbs 15:31.)
When insulted by a friend, consider this passage by Andrew Peterson, “What defense have I but to flee? Not to flee from the enemy, but to the protection of the King” (Behold the Lamb, 2011). How can you be more Christlike in your criticism?