Hostile Criticism

Posted by TJ Klapperich on 03/30/2007

I was recently reading C. J. Mahaney’s book, Humility: True Greatness. I found one section in particular very helpful. Mahaney encourages his readers to invite and pursue correction to deal with sin and build humility. Near the end of the chapter Mahaney states, "And don’t be put off when a friends observation may not be 100 percent accurate. I’ve found that there’s truth to be gleaned at times even from an enemy’s critique. Humility doesn’t demand mathematical precision from another’s input. humility postures itself to receive God’s grace from any avenue possible" (Humility, p. 134).


I find this is a very difficult application. My first response to criticism is to be defensive. That is especially true when the criticism comes from someone who is not interested in helping me, but who is out to get me. When an opponent criticizes me, he usually goes after a real weakness. However painful this may be, it is really God’s grace at work. If I can respond humbly to this criticism, I can learn from it. It is pride that turns it from a positive to a negative. When it is all about me, it is an attack on me. However when I realize it is about Christ and not me, I can let it have the impact in my life Christ wants it to have. It will humble me, but it will also make me more like Christ. Ultimately those two things, humility and Christlikeness, cannot be separated, for humility is an indespensible element of Christlikeness (Phil 2:5–11).