Proverbs 25:12 (NLT)
To one who listens, valid criticism is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry.
If advice is like a beautiful centerpiece of silver and gold…what kind of centerpiece is criticism? When its harsh and condemning, whether you are the recipient or the distributor, criticism is an ugly reality that you would not want to adorn your dinner table on any day of the week. It’s hard to hear, hard to look at, and hard to be around. But when criticism is valid and delivered with love and concern and gentleness, you are more beautiful with it than without.
The bible makes a strong and consistent case for living our lives in community, and within that community resides love, encouragement, and forgiveness…as well as accountability, confrontation, and criticism. There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors (Pr. 15:22). A cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecc. 4:12), and two people working together have a better return on their work (Ecc. 4:9). And while we should encourage one another to pursue love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24), we should also confess our sins to one another (Jas. 5:16), and when necessary, we need to call each other out for our sin (Gal. 6:1).
Nathan the prophet confronted King David in a creative and respectful way…and David listened, repented, and was restored before the Lord. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, confronted the Jews in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost…and three thousand repented and were saved. Elihu was a young man but had the courage to criticize Job and his friends…and set them all straight in the knowledge of God’s Truth. When we hear valid criticism and act on it, our lives improve, and we glorify God.
Most of us bristle when criticism comes our way. We have fragile egos and we tend to have an inflated sense of our own abilities while lacking a sober-minded assessment of our faults and shortcomings. Valid criticism is a gift. It allows you to see things that are in your blind spot and helps you to become a better version of yourself. Christ is the only person in human history whose life was free from criticism. For the rest of us, we desperately need to hear valid criticism and act on it.