I’m reminded of some wise advice a radio broadcaster friend once gave me. Early on in his career, as my friend struggled to know how to deal with both criticism and praise, he felt that God was encouraging him to shelve both. What’s the essence of what he took to heart? Learn what you can from criticism and accept praise. Then shelve both and humbly move on in God’s grace and power.
Criticism and praise stir in us powerful emotions that, if left unchecked, can lead to either self-loathing or an overinflated ego. In Proverbs we read of the benefits of encouragement and wise counsel: “Good news gives health to the bones. . . .Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding” (15:30, 32).
If we’re on the receiving end of a rebuke, may we choose to be sharpened by it. Proverbs states, “Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise” (v. 31). And if we’re blessed with words of praise, may we be refreshed and filled with gratitude. As we walk humbly with God, He can help us learn from both criticism and praise, shelve them, and then move on in Him (v. 33).
Father God, thank You for the gift of praise and criticism. As I humbly surrender to You, may I grow and be sharpened by both.
In Proverbs, the righteous are the wise, and the foolish are the wicked (for example, see 10:1–3). A wise person is one who obeys God and His Word, thus avoiding moral pitfalls and failures. In contrast, a fool is one who says, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). Solomon contrasts the wise and the foolish (Proverbs 10–15), comparing their attitudes, actions, and speech. Proverbs 15 describes the wise person as one who is discerning (v. 21), seeks godly counsel (v. 22), speaks graciously (v. 23), lives cautiously (v. 24), is humble (v. 25), pure (v. 26), honest (v. 27), self-controlled (v. 28), prayerful (v. 29), teachable (vv. 31–32), and fears God (v. 33). The foundation for such a godly life is stated at the beginning of Proverbs in 1:7, repeated in 9:10, and reiterated again in 15:33: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom.