He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. Proverbs 15:31 (NIV)
You have heard words of constructive criticism before haven’t you? Yes, I have. That’s a modern way to say what is called a life-giving rebuke. It’s probably not a good translation of my word. I don’t think you understand the danger of not accepting a life-giving rebuke when you call it constructive criticism. I’m not sure what you mean. Do you think accepting or rejecting constructive criticism is an option on your part? Is constructive criticism like feedback that you can choose to accept or reject? Yes, I guess so. That’s a real problem then. Why is that? I often speak through others to you. I will often give you wisdom through the words of others. Sometimes that wisdom will be a matter of life and death. Do you want to pick and choose from the wisdom that I want to speak into your life? No, I don’t. I want all the wisdom that you will give to me. Yes, I know.
Not every criticism you hear will be constructive. Not every constructive criticism will come from me. Not every constructive criticism will be like a life-giving rebuke. Some criticism may look like constructive criticism but will be a form of condemnation that will try to tear you down. The devil is very good at using so called constructive criticism to attack you with words that can steal, kill, and destroy life. What do all my comments suggest to you? I need to listen very carefully to what I have called constructive criticism and what you call a life-giving rebuke. I need to carefully consider all the words that are being spoken to me. When you listen what will you be trying to hear? When I listen I will be trying to hear all the wisdom that you want to speak into my life. As you listen what must you not do? As I listen I must not react in a way that quickly rejects what others have to say to me. Why is that? I know that you have often spoken into my life through the words of others. Yes, I have.
How open are you to listening to constructive criticism or life-giving rebukes from others? What is your first response to difficult and challenging words that others have to say to you? I want to be completely open to how you speak to me through the words of others. I know that I have not been completely open to hearing difficult words of constructive criticism or life-giving rebuke. That is a very dangerous position to be in. Why is that? If others are afraid to take a chance to give you constructive criticism or life-giving rebukes then they won’t speak up. How you react to the words of others will either give or deny them the opportunity and permission to offer life-giving help to you. Do you want to limit the help you receive from others? No, I do not. Do you want to limit one of the ways that I want to speak wisdom into your life? No, I do not. Then you must be ready to listen to and ready to act on constructive criticism and life-giving rebukes that come your way. Is that what you will do? Yes Lord, it is.
Lord, I haven’t always been receptive to hearing and acting on words of constructive criticism. I know you often speak to me through the voices of others. Help me to hear all that you want to say to me so I can grow in your wisdom. Amen
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