September 6, 2019 by SLIMJIM
Handling Criticism in Marriage Part 2: The Goal
Review: Last session we saw that according to the Bible you shouldn’t defend yourself too quickly in order to help us handle criticism biblically in our marriage. This session we will consider what our goal should be when we hear criticism about us.
Establish the Need: When your spouse criticize you, do you know what’s your goal should be? If you don’t you won’t know what’s the God-honoring way to respond. This message is important for you
Purpose: In this session we want to look at three imperatives in terms of your goal with how you are to handle criticism.
- Make it your goal to find out if you have sinned
- Beware of the symptoms of avoiding criticism
- You must pray about the criticism
1. Make it your goal to find out if you have sinned
1. You should hear criticism to find out if you have sinned because sin is very serious
- Reason 1: Our sins makes us deserve God’s wrath: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18)
- Notice this verse talks about the reality of God’s wrath. God’s wrath is described as being “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.”
- Given how serious is the consequences of sin we should take any criticism about us very seriously.
- Reason 2: The way of sinners is also hard: “Good understanding produces favor, But the way of the treacherous is hard.” (Proverbs 13:15)
- There’s consequences to sin even this side of eternity with life right now!
- Don’t forget that sin doesn’t make us enjoy life in the long run; why would we not be honest in facing criticism and ask the question if what people criticize about us is true?
- Reason 3: If Christ died for your sins, you don’t want to enjoy the very thing that Christ went to suffer on the Cross for.
2. You should hear criticism to find out if you have sinned because Scripture command believers to correct those in sin. (That means people do have a right to correct us and we should make it our goal to find out if we have sinned.)
- “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
- “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)
I recently read a book on World War 2 with the Japanese after Pearl Harbor. The Japanese was victorious at first and soon had the victory disease in which their pride made them no longer able to consider criticism even with their war games and strategy. The Americans after Pearl Harbor was humiliated but worked hard as the weaker power to consider serious criticism to improve. The fruit of that is so different six months after Pearl Harbor in the battle of Midway in which the tide of the war was turned. How about us in the war against sin, do we take criticism seriously when so much more is at stake?
- If you have not make it a habit of handling criticism with the goal of finding out honestly about your sin, realize it will be hard. But you must make it your goal of being on the hunt for sin in your life and make the most of the opportunity when criticism about you are are brought up.
- Also be motivated by the fruits of what does a changed and holy life means in terms of your marriage and also your walk with God!
- The only way we can be motivated to face criticism rightly is when we want to change. Do you realize you must change in light of how sinful sin is?
2. Beware of the symptoms of avoiding criticism
1. It takes humility to face our criticism and make it our goal to find out about our sins so that we can confess to God and repent.
2. Pride often is what makes someone stubborn in not even considering criticisms about us; yet consider what the Bible have to say about pride:
- “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)
- “Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Proverbs 16:18)
- “Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, But humility goes before honor.” (Proverbs 18:12)
- “A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor.” (Proverbs 29:23)
3. In light of what Scripture says about pride, why let that make you avoid criticism about your sins when it has negative consequences?
- Consider the ways people can avoid facing criticism:
- Pointing out the other person’s mistakes and sins.
- Pointing out the other person’s tone or manner of how they criticize you.
- Pointing out the other person’s mistakes and sins.
- Pointing out the person is weaker in the same area that he or she is criticizing you in.
- Passive/aggressive attitude.
- Sometimes people can use the line “I’m hurt” or “I’m offended” as a way of not handling criticisms biblically.
- Caught up with emotions and feelings first before truth.
- There are times we are truly focus on our hurt feelings and we are not making it up to cover sins; yet the focus of our hurt feelings can hinder our response to criticisms and we give bad reactions to criticisms.
- This focus on feelings can distract us from legitimate criticism and and therefore the cycle of hearing repeated criticism repeats itself.
- Therefore at times it might not always be wise to air our hurt feelings for the purpose of focusing on our goal of finding out one’s sin and also not to make more problems.
Remember one of the symptoms of avoiding criticism is pointing out the person is weaker in the same area that he or she is criticizing you in? Have you seen Olympics’ competition on TV? There’s the athlete and there’s the coach. The athlete looks more capable and better at the sports than the coach. Yet the good athlete will take the counsel, criticism and suggestion from the coach very seriously, even though the athlete is more successful, better and talented than the coach at the sport. Sometimes a coach can even be mad and not talk very nice to the athlete and yet the athlete listen! That’s because the goals is not to avoid being corrected, nor about how they feel but it is about the goal of winning the prize! Brothers and sisters will we not consider winning the race and getting the prize in the Christian walk?
3. You must pray about the criticism
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
- This is a prayer to God.
- This is a prayer to God to search a believer’s heart.
- What is being searched? To “see if there be any hurtful way in me”
- Notice the prayer doesn’t stop with finding sin but also for God to change a believer’s path: “And lead me in the everlasting way”
- Pray to see if the criticism is true.
- Pray to the Lord about your pain from the criticism and your hurt feelings.
- Remember earlier we said at times it might not always be wise to talk about your hurt feelings when you hear criticism since it can provoke an argument; But that doesn’t mean God wants us to handle the pain alone! Go to God and pray about your pain!
- It is important we go to God with our pain first!
- Pray for God’s guidance: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” (Psalm 32:8)
- Pray for God’s guidance also means what you will say and ask the person who bring up the criticism and also how you speak to them.
- Pastor Joel Beeke even suggest Pray WITH YOUR CRITIC: How much more if the person is your spouse!
- If it turns out you are wrong, confess it to God and experience His grace of forgiveness and cleansing you according to 1 John 1:9! What grace through Jesus Christ!