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.
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.
- Critique yourself.
- Ask the Lord to give you a desire to be wise instead of a fool.
- Focus on your crucifixion with Christ.
- 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).