Listen to this devotional:
Proverbs 12:1 – Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. (NIV)
My collie, Tasha, suffered from severe allergies, which meant following a disciplined course of diet and medication for most of her life. The medicine was not pleasant. I could almost see her go "Yuck!" every time she swallowed it. There were also many times when ointment was necessary to dress raw and irritated skin. The application of this could be very painful, no matter how gentle I tried to be. Tasha never complained, however, by growling or fighting against the medications. It seemed that somehow she knew that these disciplines, which she hated, were exactly the things she most needed in order to lead a full and healthy life.
"Yuck" is probably another word for how many of us feel about criticism. It can be most unpleasant and painful, even when it is what is termed "constructive criticism". Constructive criticism is for our benefit, and its application is often exactly what we need to become healthier — spiritually, socially, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Accepting it gracefully, however, usually takes practice for the majority of people, or the writer of Hebrews would not have needed to spell it out in black and white:
Hebrews 12:11 – No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (NIV)
Today, any one of us may be blessed with the unpleasant and perhaps painful application of the discipline of constructive criticism. If so, how will we respond? Will we practice patience and grace amidst it? Will we quietly and humbly allow the Lord, through the criticism, to show us where growth is needed within our lives? Will we allow His peace to be a balm to our wounded egos, so that a harvest of righteousness may be produced in us as we are trained by the criticism? Or will we cast aside wisdom in favour of stupidity?
Prayer: Lord God, have mercy upon our frail and tender egos, so that we might be open and ready to embrace the discipline of constructive criticism in our lives. Grant us ears to hear and understand Your truth and love amidst it. Bless us with humility of spirit to embrace it and grace to be trained by it that we might continue to mature in the image of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, in Whose name we pray. Amen.