Criticism, anger, sarcasm: Words have an effect on our lives and the lives of those around us. How should we use our words and how should we respond when someone criticizes us?
2 Kings 15 & 16
Words, Criticism & Imperfect Saints
Responding Well to Criticism
Chapter 15 summarizes the reigns of Azariah, also called Uzziah, and his son Jothan. The Scripture says they did what was right in the sight of the Lord in many ways, although both tolerated the idolatrous practices of the people.
But then … verse 5:
“Then the LORD struck the king, so that he was a leper until the day of his death …”
The parallel passage in 2 Chronicles gives us some insight. After serving the Lord well and seeing God prosper his efforts, Uzziah (Azariah) got puffed up with pride and tried to usurp the priestly role by going into the temple to burn incense on the altar of incense, something only the priest was to do. But even then, God didn’t strike him with leprosy until he refused to listen to the High Priest when rebuked (2 Chron. 26.16-23).
This is a great reminder to us to heed God’s Word and listen to wise counsel. And when we are rebuked, corrected, or criticized, we need to consider it carefully and prayerfully. Even when it seems unfair, we should ask the Lord if there is even a nugget of truth in what was said.
A great little booklet about how to receive criticism is called Words That Cut. It’s available through Peacemaker Ministries. If you’re not familiar with their ministry and materials, you might want to check out their website.