There are two kinds of criticism: the true kind, and the not-true kind. Constructive criticism, and destructive criticism. Constructive criticism, when founded in truth and delivered well, can be the key to moving forwards. Unfounded criticism can do the opposite. When those around you speak critically, or gossip about you, it can feel like it might get in the way of you following the path laid ahead. However, 19th Century evangelist and writer D.L. Moody said ‘If I take care of my character, God will take care of my reputation’. It’s the nature of living in community that people will always talk, and some will spread negativity, especially if we’re involved in a worthy cause. But as D.L. Moody observed, when we try our best to follow God, He will ultimately protect our reputation. If we are striving to life a godly life, then the truth of that will provide its own proof. Unfounded negativity from others cannot stand up against a holy life. The Message paraphrases Isaiah 54:17 like this: ‘Any accuser who takes you to court will be dismissed as a liar’. This leaves us with the confidence to know that God will always restore truth and protect those who live for Him. Once we know that, we can live in the instruction of Luke 6:28 to ‘bless those who curse you’ and ‘pray for those who mistreat you’ (NIV). When we allow God to reassure us that other people’s words cannot hurt us, we can find the strength and compassion to not only stand up against our critics’ words, but to bless and pray for them until they see the truth.
Write out five important, encouraging truths about yourself. Put that list somewhere where you can look at it if you need encouragement to ignore those speaking negatively about you.