How to Handle Criticism
by Jerry Curry
The $2400 Telephone
by Gene Taylor
How To Handle Criticism
No one enjoys being criticized. In fact, regarding criticism, most of us are probably quick to agree that it would be better to give than to receive. There are several attitudes which I might take towards criticism: ignore it; be crushed by it (the very idea that someone would have the audacity to criticize me!); become discouraged by it and just quit trying; become angry with the one criticizing; or just maybe, accept it as being justified and receive it with meekness.
Because we are all affected by criticism, on both the giving and receiving ends, it seems expedient to give some thought to this subject.
Let’s begin by making a couple of observations. First of all, we must consider the source. A prime example is one who has no children, but is compelled to criticize, correct and instruct young parents concerning the rearing of their children. Contrast this to the sage advice given to parents in Irven Lee’s book Good Homes In A Wicked World. The criticism of the first one might take with a grain of salt. However, we ought to respect the criticism of a proven man such as Irven Lee and take heed to his advice. Secondly, let me suggest that we need to be fair-minded, especially with ourselves. Too often, we are quick to respond to criticism negatively, without stopping to consider that perhaps the criticism is just and in order. Let’s consider some biblical examples and principles.
Jesus and His apostles were subjected to much unjust criticism, often coming in the form of false accusations and judgments. Let’s see what we can learn by looking at their response. What was the reaction of Paul and Silas after being falsely accused and thrown into prison in Philippi (Acts 16:16-34)? Were they crushed, or did they become discouraged and quit? Quite the contrary! We find them singing and praying, and later converting the jailor and his household. Paul was criticized as he taught in Athens by the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers as being an idle babbler. How would I react to being called an idle babbler? Paul was not intimidated by this criticism, but considering the source, used it as an opportunity to preach to about the Unknown God of Athens! We have the example of Jesus in 1 Peter 2:22-23. “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously”
No doubt there is far too much unjust criticism given. But we also need to realize there is often a need for helpful, constructive, instructive criticism. Perhaps the hardest lesson to learn and to accept is that it is not always the other fellow that needs it; sometimes I am the one who needs to receive some instructive criticism. The apostle Paul rebuked Peter for his improper attitude towards the Gentile Christians at Antioch. The account in Galatians 2:11-14 states that he rebuked him openly, before all. Did Peter become bitter towards Paul? Please note that in 2 Peter 3:15 he refers to Paul as his “beloved brother”. Paul instructs Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2 to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
How should I handle criticism? If truly unjust, I just ignore and press on. However, if it is just, I should receive it with thankfulness and with an open mind. It seems that a good rule to follow as we close our thoughts about criticism is found in James 1:19. “But let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath.”
- Jerry Curry
The $2400 Telephone
What kind of telephone would you expect to get if you paid $2400.00 for it? You would anticipate getting the latest in technology, possibly a video phone. The last thing you would expect would be just a plain old rotary phone that was not cordless, had no call-waiting, caller-ID or speed dialing, and would not even accept touch-tone service. But that is exactly what my parents got. As a matter of fact, they had two of them for the same price.
You see, when they moved into their house in June 1958, no one could own their own phone. You had to rent it from the phone company. So they rented two of them -- a desk model for the den and a wall model for the recreation room. Each phone cost them $5.00 per month on their bill. They paid that amount for each phone for 40 years, 480 months. When you multiply it out, it comes to $2,400.00 per phone.
Several years ago when the government regulations changed and people could now own their own phone equipment, they just never bothered doing it. Their phones worked and they were happy with them. Anyway, five dollars is such a small amount. So they kept paying that rental fee every month, never realizing how expensive those old rotary phones were to them.
The High Price Of Sin
As my parents never realized how costly those phones were, many people are in the same boat when it comes to the wages of sin. Sin seems pleasurable to them (Heb. 11:24-25) and they don't seem to suffer much because of it. What they do not realize is that, if they continue in sin, they will find it to be very costly in the day of judgment. Romans 6:23 states, "For the wages of sin is death..." The "death" in this passage is not the physical death which comes at the end of our lives here upon the earth. Rather, it is the "second death" of eternal separation from God in a place of torment. Revelation 21:8 says, "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
Jesus tells of the high cost of sin in Matthew 16:26, where He says, "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" The sinner forfeits his eternal soul when he sins. Because of ignorance, many never realize what a price they are paying for their sins.
There is hope for the sinner, though. Jesus died on the cross to pay the high cost of sin (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Sadly, some, knowing of that sacrifice and the saving power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16), refuse to obey Christ because they are happy with their lives and possibly even rationalize that "if God is really a loving God, hell won't be so bad." While God is described as love (1 John 4:8), He is also referred to as a "consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29).
Never underestimate the high price of sin. Wake up to what it really costs you. Give obedience to the gospel of Christ to have your sins remitted (Acts 2:38) so that you will not have to pay with your soul