To always give a defense for every criticism against you is rather a sign of weakness than a strong point. And such infirmity leads to so much irritation of concerned fellows that they stop airing their opinions on your conduct. Now when the mirror is gone, the hope for perfection of beauty goes dim.
Criticism is rather a statement of opinion, and its congruence to truth remains probable, to be rightly judged only by a pure, defenseless heart. And why answer back when the criticism against you is not a question? Yea, even if found in form of a question, it is often rhetorical, needing no answer.
In mathematics, an identity element is defined as an element which has no effect on combination with any of the sides of an equation. So are excuses to failure; they neither undo the decisions and deeds that led to the disappointment, nor alter the damage already caused.
Haven’t we often been misled by the pride of our depraved hearts to think ourselves righteous amidst obvious evidences of our errors? Thomas a Kempis rightly remarks, “Often we are not aware that we are so blind in heart. Meanwhile we do wrong, and then do worse in excusing it.” And little wonder the sweet Psalmist of Israel cried out in prayers,
“Who can understand [his] errors? cleanse thou me from secret [faults]. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous [sins]; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.”
A man of a thousand words is too noisy and boring to be heard; yea, a man of ten thousand excuses is even too irresponsible and too weak to succeed. He who absolves himself of all blame stands in judgment of all; yea, he puts himself in greater danger who thinks himself to be entirely safe from all harm.
We should be more willing to allow men have their say while we examine ourselves to amend our ways on course to perfection. If we are right in our thinking, we should soon realize that open condemnation does not demean us; neither does public commendation make us better than who we really are.
Of this Christ Himself proclaimed,
“Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!”
And elsewhere, He blesses the unjustly criticized, saying,
“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”
The man who accepts criticism dissolves all erroneous conclusions by the inner strength which he possesses, namely, the wisdom of his heart. And he who gratefully receives them with the calm of meekness soon realizes some great opportunities to develop and release more strength.
Are you being unjustly criticized? I offer you the words said to me by Professor Michael Kolawole, a lecturer of mine who I admire: “Learn to cultivate a culture; you will excel in it and be contented. But don’t expect all people to admire you. A large number, out of envy, will attempt to blackmail you. Don’t mind. Though annoying, but keep moving.”
If your actions are just and true, they cannot be tainted or dimmed by vain arguments, for darkness leaves no spot on the candle stick; yea, as light shines brighter in darkness, so shall your righteousness break forth in glorious radiance amidst the erroneous judgments laid up against you.
Peter sets this forth with resounding authority of justice when he wrote:
“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation”
Many a time, silence is the best defense for criticism. It provides a better platform for sober reflection and relaxes the muscles of the mind from a thousand struggles against truth to be occasioned by one’s ego.
The highest example of this is seen in the attitude of the Messiah, of whom it was written,
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth”
Such Peter recommends as being altogether worthy of our emulation:
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [himself] to him that judgeth righteously”.
So also we who are criticized unjustly should not fall to the deception of answering back, for such speaks more of the arrogance of folly than the meekness of wisdom; rather, we should maintain righteous silence, do away with unnecessary excuses and reserve our just answers, if any, for the day of ultimate reckoning, while we diligently consider our ways and rest our hope in our blessed Saviour and Lord whom we strive to please with our every deeds in life or death.
As I conclude this piece written with intent to enlighten the heart of my fellow companions in the heavenly race, I must here admit that such was borne out of firsthand experience, not just diligent study of words or stories of another, neither by intelligent composition of amiable lyrics. I have indeed been chastised by my faults and corrected by the divine light of Scriptural truth. You may now borrow a lesson from mine to tread more wisely on the narrow pathways of earthly life. For “an ounce of wisdom”, the Chinese say, “is worth a bushel of learning”.
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” Winston Churchill
first published on lytoflyf Blog