A Biblical Evaluation of Criticism and God’s Victory: Part I
What is Criticism: Everybody seems to know what criticism is.

Introduction: The series: A Biblical evaluation of Criticism and God’s victory gives God’s way to victory in the giving and receiving of criticism. Man was created a judge – a rational being with the capacity to discern. An aspect of discernment is the giving and receiving of criticism. In a real sense, the Triune God is the Ultimate Critic. It is His world to be run his way for his glory and the good of His people. It is incumbent on the  believer to make a biblical evaluation of criticism as the way for victory.

A. Criticism is a judgment based on a standard. The judgment is one of disapproval, displeasure, and perhaps condemnation by another person as he finds fault with you. It requires a standard. A proper assessment of criticism requires a biblical evaluation of criticism.

1. The critic and the criticism declare that you have fallen short of that standard.
2. The standard may be God’s or the critic’s and the conclusion may be true or false.

B. There are at least three persons involved in judging/criticism: the giver-judge or critic, the receiver, and the Holy Spirit.
C. The Bible has much to say about judging but rarely uses the terms criticism or criticize (NIV: criticism: Judges 8:1; Acts 11:2; 2 Corinthians 8:20).
D. Judgment and criticism are always relational – vertically (to God) and horizontally (to others).
E. How should a believer respond when he or she is judged and criticized? The short answer is to use it. Use it, you say? That is crazy! You say.
F. No, it isn’t when you remember and apply the foundational truths expressed in Matthew 22:37-40 and 1 John 4:19.

1. Life is theological and therefore relational.
2. The vertical controls the horizontal.
3. The horizontal reflects the vertical.

How To Respond To Judgment And Criticism: Part II
God’s perspective

A. Begin with a proper vertical reference.

1. You acknowledge, agree with, and act upon the truths that:

a. God criticized and judged Christ at the cross.
b. God criticized and judged you in Christ at the cross.
c. You agree with and accept God’s criticism and judgment of Christ and you.

2. This knowledge and acknowledgement should produce joy and thanksgiving because you know that your God uses criticism for His glory and your good.

a. God is Judge and rightfully so. There is no truth if God is not Judge.
b. God judged Christ in the place of every believer; it was one of the greatest gifts to His children and to you.
c. God’s judgment brings peace and freedom: Romans 3:21-26; 8:1-4; 6:11.
d. The believer is freed from judgment and its guilt and condemnation; from the penalty and the power of sin; and from hell.

3. As a believer, you agree that God’s judgment and criticism of Christ and you were one of the greatest things that have happened to you.
4. Your agreement is testimony to the fact of God’s grace to and working in you.
5. Since the above truths are a reality in your life, you can’t ignore the horizontal implications and your response to God and others. .

B. You link the vertical to the horizontal – your relationship to and with others.

1. The above truths have set you free from the bondage of protecting yourself from being judged.
2. The issue is not if but how you will respond to those truths.

a. When you are criticized, you are able to function as a “Christian oyster” (2 Corinthians 5:9) thereby modeling Christ and becoming more like Him.
b. You will be in good company – Christ’s – when you are criticized for pleasing God and when you respond to criticism His way (James 1:2-4, 5-8; 1 Peter 1:6-7; 2:19-25).

3. You will consider the critic and criticism from God’s perspective.

Receiving and Giving Criticism A Biblical Evaluation: Part  III

A. Some reasons for not criticizing or judging:

1. As a rule, no one likes it or likes to do it.

a. This is in part a reflection of the fig-leaf function of life (Genesis 3:7).
b. It may be a reflection of the dislike or misunderstanding of the purpose of Scripture: 2 Timothy 3:15-16; Hebrews 4:12.

2. No one likes to be wrong or more appropriately, to be told that they are wrong.
3. People don’t judge because:

a. They don’t want to appear holier than thou.
b. They fear the loss of friends more than displeasing God.
c. They convince themselves it is none of their business and they are not the other person’s Holy Spirit.
d. Life is simpler: they desire no involvement in the “messy things of life.”
e. They have no desire to change themselves so they deflect attention from themselves.

B. Typical responses to judging and criticism in which self takes center stage:

1. Too often feelings and “I” take precedent rather than biblical truth: I feel like a failure, I feel rejected, I feel and I am uncomfortable, I feel threatened.
2. People blame the method and manner of how they are criticized and judged.
3. Your response is often directly related to the value attached to what you are being criticized about.
4. Often there is blindness both in the critic and the one criticized.
5. There may be avoidance of the critic and criticism based on the fig-leaf function of life.
6. There may be isolation and defensiveness in order to protect self.
7. There maybe bitterness, resentment, anger, and grudge-holding vertically and horizontally. Relationships go unreconciled.
8. The person, both critic and the criticized one, may not want to change and they attempt to protect self – no or poorly presented judging or anger.

C. These horizontal responses are vertical as well as horizontal.
D. The idea of “no judging” or not giving criticism is prevalent.

1. Jesus is often misquoted and or misunderstood: John 8:1-11 and Matthew 7:1-6.
2. What is Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:1-6?

Criticism: A Biblical Evaluation: Part IV
What does God say in His Word?

A. God commends proper judging and criticism: 2 Corinthians 13:5; Hebrews 4:12; James 1:22
B. In the book of Proverbs criticism includes the idea of rebuke, correct, reproof, and instruct. These terms used in the original language have a special meaning: educative discipline.
C. Proverbs 12:15-16; 14:12; 16:2, 25: the way of a fool seems right to him but the wise listens to advice. The contrasts: fool vs. wise and listening vs. not listening.

1. Proverbs 12:15: The fool is wise in his own eyes: he does not listen to advice/counsel.
2. Proverbs 12:16 follows: the fool is easily irritated – angered vs. the wise man is a listener and learner.
3. Proverbs 14:12: folly is bad for one’s health vs. Proverbs 3:5-8: proper thinking and wanting are blessings.
4. Proverbs 16:2, 25: self-judgment is untrustworthy. So may be the judgment by others. Only God’s judgment is trustworthy: 1 Corinthians 4:1-5.

a. God’s judgment is always correct. We are to use God’s truth as an interpretative grid by which to evaluate self-judgment and the judgment of others.
b. How do you respond to His instrument which includes His word or another person?
c. Beware of a discrepancy between your actions and your motivation.

5. Summary: Proverbs 3:11-12/Hebrews 12:5-11: don’t despise the Lord’s discipline.

a. Rather, use it. That includes using the criticism of others.
b. Be a learner. Listen to learn to change is what learner’s do. Having a learner’s spirit and a servant’s heart is the essence of wisdom.
c. The fool is his own standard. He has no idea re: his failures or what he truly needs. He approaches life with a “John Wayne” attitude.
d. Rather, God created man a social, relational being with both a vertical and horizontal reference: John 13:33-34/1 John 4:7-12; Colossians 3:12-14; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

D. Pride is an inner-man activity, a self-evaluation and thinking in which a person places himself as the lawmaker and lawgiver (standard maker and keeper) in relation to God and others. The person functionally places himself above God and others in terms of judgment and evaluation. Control is the issue: yours vs. God’s and others

1. Pride is an inversion of Romans 11:36.
2. Proud people are self-exalters and self-graspers: James 3:13-17; Philippians 2:3-5.
3. Notice the contrasts:

Proverbs 13:10: Pride only breeds quarrels but wisdom is found in those who take advice. See James 4:1-3
Proverbs 13:18: He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame but whoever heeds correction is honored: an undisciplined life or one bent on self- pleasing is directed by the sinful pleasure principle and has grave consequences now and eternally.
Proverbs 19:20: Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise.
Proverbs 15:5: …whoever heeds correction shows prudence.
Proverbs 15:32: ..whoever heeds correction gains understanding.

4. The contrasts: the “non-listener” fights and has “I must win” approach to people and self (James 4:1-3). A wise person is a listener (James 1:19-20).

E. The person who hates correction actually hates God. He is animal-like: Proverbs 12:1: he who hates correction is stupid (animal-like); 5:12-14; 1:22
F. Blessed is the man: Proverbs 3:13-18: blessed in the man who finds wisdom – she is a tree of life to those who embrace her.
G. Wisdom calls: do you hear her? Proverbs 8:3-5:.. Do you have have an understanding heart.

a. What is the evidence that you do hear her and have an understanding heart?
b. One way to assess yourself is to ask: how do I respond to criticism and judgment?
c. A proper response to it flows from a proper vertical (God-ward) reference. Proverbs 2:1-6

H. Trouble and misery for self and others follows the person who refuses correction.
Proverbs 10:17: he who heeds discipline shows the way to life but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
Proverbs 29:1: A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed without remedy (6:15)

Benefits of rightly responding to criticism: duty, privilege, blessing as a child of God: Part V

A. You are considered wise if you receive it and foolish if you don’t: Matthew7:24-27.
B. It is one of His ways for you to grow – prune the vine, remove dross in the Refiner’s fire. Remember it is not the criticism but the person’s (or your) response that is key.
C. It reminds you that you agree with God’s assessment about you, His Son, and Him.
D. You are able to biblically process and respond to any criticism and critic that God brings your way because of a proper vertical orientation and understanding of the cross.
E. Your desire to grow individually and help others grow will be increased,
F. Psalm 141:5: it is a sign of honor and true kindness: Let a righteous man strike me – it is a kindness (chesed); let him rebuke me – it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it. Proverbs 27:5: Better is open rebuke than hidden love.