Criticism wounds. It’s painful. Not all wounds are faithful wounds—some wounds come from reckless words that pierce like a sword (Proverbs 12:18). But I’m not talking about the sting of reckless words in this post. Today I am writing about the sting of criticism that comes even from a faithful wound (Proverbs 27:6). Even from a friend, criticism wounds.
But have you ever wondered what criticism wounds?
I think the simple answer is that criticism wounds the sin that has not been mortified. A wise, older pastor once said to me: “C.J., what hurts isn’t dead yet.” And that is often what criticism wounds—my still-living, still-breathing pride.
Receiving criticism and correction is necessary, because it reveals the blind spots in my life and the pockets of pride that have not been put to death (Colossians 3:5, 12). Therefore we need correction. But by saying this I am not arguing that receiving criticism will be painless or enjoyable. Far from it!
David got this. He understood the benefit, as well as the pain, of correction:
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it. (Psalm 141:5)
Say again? A kindness?
Left to myself I wouldn’t share David’s perspective. This kind of kindness I can do without!
But criticism from a faithful friend (and at times, even from an enemy) is a kindness. It is the kindness of the friend willing to bring an area of concern to my attention, and most importantly it is an expression of God’s kindness, because often through the criticism I perceive my enemy that still lives—my sin!
I find this to be a helpful reminder when the sting of criticism arrives.
Receiving criticism hurts. It always will. I don’t anticipate maturing to a point where receiving correction will become a pure joy. A wound is a wound. It leaves a bruise. It hurts. But I need it.
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness.
Let me not refuse it.