Seek to encourage others, rather than tear them down

12/08/2013 5:46 PM

12/08/2013 5:46 PM

DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: I know I shouldn’t get upset when people criticize me, but I just can’t help it. Even when I know they’re wrong, it still upsets me and sends me into an emotional tailspin. How can I learn to handle criticism? — M.S.

DEAR M.S..:

I doubt if anyone likes to be criticized, particularly when they know it isn’t deserved. (That’s one reason, incidentally, why we should be very careful about criticizing others.) The Bible condemns those who have “tongues as sharp as a serpent’s; the poison of vipers is on their lips” (Psalm 140:3).

But criticism is part of life, and the real question (as you say) is how to deal with it. Let me make two suggestions. First, ask God to help you become less sensitive to what others say. Some of what they say actually may not even be intended as criticism — but you take it as such.

Don’t focus, however, on what others may or may not think of you. Focus instead on what God thinks of you — and rejoice in it. After all, when we commit our lives to Jesus Christ we become God’s dearly loved children. Find your security and comfort in this great truth. The Bible wisely says, “Do not pay attention to every word people say” (Ecclesiastes 7:21).

Second, ask God to help you be an encourager. Criticism tears people down; encouragement builds them up. Learning to encourage others won’t only keep you from focusing on yourself, but it will help others. The Bible says, “The tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).

Remember: Jesus knew what it was to undergo unjust criticism; it even sent him to the cross. But he refused to let it get him down, continuing instead on the path God had set for him. May that be true of us.

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