Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Cross and Criticism

Ten years ago Alfred Poirier (PCA pastor and Board Chairman for Peacemakers) wrote a great article on The Cross and Criticism for The Journal of Biblical Counseling, and it's now available online. It is very much worth your time to read, digest, and apply.

Some excerpts below, but you'll want to read the whole thing.

I'm using criticism in a broad sense as referring to any judgment made about you by another, which declares that you fall short of a particular standard. The standard may be God's or man's. The judgment may be true or false. It may be given gently with a view to correction, or harshly and in a condemnatory fashion. It may be given by a friend or by an enemy. But whatever the case, it is a judgment or criticism about you, that you have fallen short of a standard.
Key Point:

"A believer is one who identifies with all that God affirms and condemns in Christ's crucifixion."

In other words, in Christ's cross I agree with God's judgment of me and I agree with God's justification of me. Both have a radical impact on how we take and give criticism.

  1. Critique yourself.
  2. Ask the Lord to give you a desire to be wise instead of a fool.
  3. Focus on your crucifixion with Christ.
  4. Learn to speak nourishing words to others.
How to give criticism in a godly way:

  • I see my brother/sister as one for whom Christ died (1 Cor. 8:11; Heb. 13:1)
  • I come as an equal, who also is a sinner (Rom. 3:9, 23).
  • I prepare my heart lest I speak out of wrong motives (Prov. 16:2; 15:28; 16:23).
  • I examine my own life and confess my sin first (Matt. 7:3-5).
  • I am always patient, in it for the long haul (Eph. 4:2; 1 Cor. 13:4).
  • My goal is not to condemn by debating points, but to build up through constructive criticism (Eph. 4:29).
  • I correct and rebuke my brother gently, in the hope that God will grant him the grace of repentance even as I myself repent only through His grace (2 Tim. 2:24-25).