Have you ever had someone criticize you and the criticism was so wild that you started to laugh thinking they were joking, only to find out they were dead serious? I have had this happen. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I started to smirk, getting ready to laugh and then realized, “This person is serious!” What do you do in such circumstances?
The Apostle Paul had people criticizing his ministry. His critics really believed they were being led by God. But they were saying things like Paul was just in the ministry for himself and he was manipulating and using them. In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul listed his credentials. He went on to list the examples of being beaten five times with the forty lashes minus one and being beaten with rods and being stoned and left for dead. He went on and on with several other examples of how he had given his life to further the gospel. And then in 12:11 he said, “I have been a fool! You forced me to it…” In defending yourself you sometimes feel ridiculous.
All of us receive criticism. How should we respond when we believe we are being unfairly criticized? First, accept criticism as normal. When you are trying to do something for the Lord, people will criticize you.
Secondly, respond only when absolutely necessary. Most of the criticism we face should be ignored. The only reason Paul defended himself in this circumstance is due to the fact that if he didn’t, these critics might divide the church and cause some to fall away or it might ruin the ministry of the church in Corinth.
Thirdly, ask God if He is trying to teach you something through this even if it seems unfair. Proverbs 13:18 says, “Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.” Sometimes even when criticism is not entirely fair we can learn something that will help us grow in our walk with the Lord.
Fourthly, don’t respond in kind. When people say bad things about you, resist the urge to say bad things to or about them. And lastly, keep your eye on the goal. The bigger picture is the glory of God. Our bigger picture is the growth of God’s kingdom in making disciples here at MCC.