“Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me- they have no regard for you. But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Turn to me and have mercy on me; show your strength in behalf of your servant; save me because I serve you just as my mother did.” Psalm 86: 14-17
I’m sure we all have had critics. Someone may have come to you to tell you something you “needed” to be aware of. There may have been someone who knew better than you and shared their parenting, marriage or work advice. Someone kindly told you your choice of outfit is unflattering, or your new haircut makes you look older. How do you take criticism? It isn’t easy to hear, especially when it cuts to the quick. Who would tell you such things? Your friends? A stranger? A family member? What about an enemy? I would prefer to be criticized by anyone than an enemy. It is easiest to dismiss the words of an enemy and look at them wondering why they can’t see their own faults. How easy it is to determine that the criticism of your enemy has no basis.
Timothy Keller comments on Psalm 86:14-17 observing how David handled criticism:
“Instead of invoking God’s justice and calling for his enemies’ destruction, he turns the spotlight on himself. He appeals to God’s mercy, grateful for his patience with him. David is open to correction, willing to examine himself to see if, despite his enemies’ evil motivations, there might be something in him that warrants rebuke and needs to change.”
Taking time to reflect and to respond rather than reacting is not easy but it is not impossible either. Often it is not necessary to even respond until you have brought this critique to the Lord and asked Him to search your heart. Even when the criticism is difficult to hear, with a humble heart we can seek the Lord’s perspective. Is there a grain of truth in what was said?
Timothy Keller continues, “If someone is criticizing you and the criticism is mostly mistaken, identify the 20 percent of the indictment that IS fair. Without excuse be willing to take it to heart. The strongest Christians are the ones most willing to repent.”
I agree. Listen, identify, take it to heart and repent. God has often used enemies for His good purposes. If an enemy shows you your wrongs, repent.
Kathy Withers is on staff at America’s Keswick and serves as Director of Partner Care. Kathy has been married to her husband Dave for 30 years. They have two adult children. Kathy is active in her local Church and teaches a Bible Study for women. Her passion is to encourage women to deepen their walk with Jesus Christ by finding and living out the truths of God’s Word.