Some notes below from Alfred Poirier’s excellent article “The Cross and Criticism,” first published in The Journal of Biblical Counseling (Spring 1999).


I’m using criticism in a broad sense as referring to any judgment made about you by another, which declares that you fall short of a particular standard.

The standard may be God’s or man’s.

The judgment may be true or false.

It may be given gently with a view to correction, or harshly and in a condemnatory fashion.

It may be given by a friend or by an enemy.

But whatever the case, it is a judgment or criticism about you, that you have fallen short of a standard.

Key Point:

A believer is one who identifies with all that God affirms and condemns in Christ’s crucifixion.

In other words, in Christ’s cross I agree with God’s judgment of me; and in Christ’s I agree with God’s justification of me. Both have a radical impact on how we take and give criticism.


  1. Critique yourself.
  2. Ask the Lord to give you a desire to be wise instead of a fool.
  3. Focus on your crucifixion with Christ.
  4. Learn to speak nourishing words to others.

How to give criticism in a godly way:

  • I see my brother/sister as one for whom Christ died (1 Cor. 8:11; Heb. 13:1)
  • I come as an equal, who also is a sinner (Rom. 3:9, 23).
  • I prepare my heart lest I speak out of wrong motives (Prov. 16:2; 15:28; 16:23).
  • I examine my own life and confess my sin first (Matt. 7:3-5).
  • I am always patient, in it for the long haul (Eph. 4:2; 1 Cor. 13:4).
  • My goal is not to condemn by debating points, but to build up through constructive criticism (Eph. 4:29).
  • I correct and rebuke my brother gently, in the hope that God will grant him the grace of repentance even as I myself repent only through His grace (2 Tim. 2:24-25).