If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. – Proverbs 15:31
31 He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.
32 He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.
Criticism is part and parcel of being fallen creatures in a fallen world. How we respond to makes all the difference in the world. Developing the life skill to respond fittingly this is great value.
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to the development of an unhealthy state of things. If it is heeded in time, danger may be averted; if it is suppressed, a fatal distemper may develop” (Winston Churchill).
“Constructive criticism includes timely and specific negative feedback with useful strategies for skill improvement, support, and encouragement” (Dr. Darnell Cole).
Constructive criticism allows individuals to learn and grow. Feedback and criticism are tools for success to be made the most of. It may provide new insight and perspectives to things we may have overlooked or never considered. The new insights provide an opportunity for improvement.
Criticism and praise stir up powerful emotions within us that, if left unchecked, can lead to either self-loathing or a hyper irrigated ego. Proverbs teaches us about the benefits of encouragement and wise counsel: “Good news gives health to the bones . . .. Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding” (Proverbs 15:30, 32).
In our fallen world, criticism is a continuum that runs the gamut from mild correction to castigating tirades and censure. Constructive criticism often consists of reproof, correction, discipline, and the like.
The Father intentionally places people in the lives of children of the King to help us in our journey to maturity and service. His greatest gift to us is the word of God.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
How we respond to criticism and rebuke is our choice. Learning how to walk humbly with the Father and grow from both criticism and praise is the wisest of choices.
The willingness to receive criticism and correction is the foundation of wise living.
REFLECT & PRAY
“The fear of the Lord is the willingness to humble oneself before God and to let His Word guide us” (Constable).
Father thank You for Your gifts of praise and criticism. May I humbly receive from both, grow and sharpened.
What is the Father’s goal when providing reproof and discipline for children of the King? He desires that each of us will respond appropriately and live wisely. It all begins with a healthy respect for the Father. It is the foundation of knowledge and wisdom.
Proverbs 1:7 Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Do you want to be the best? Do want to be with the best? Listen and respond to criticism correctly.
Proverbs 15:31 If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise.
The Hebrew expression translated as life-giving reproof, constructive criticism, the reproof that leads to life, or wholesome admonition is striking. It helps unpack the meaning of the entire phrase.
The Hebrew word translated as life-giving, constructive, or wholesome is chayyim. Chayyim comes from the Hebrew word chay which is literally life or living thing. It refers to whatever promotes health or well-being of body, mind, or spirit (UBS)
The Hebrew term translated as criticism or reproof is tokachath. Tokachath originally had more of a legal connotation having more the sense of presenting a case or argument. This is how it is used in the book of Job.
Job 23:4 I would lay out my case and present my arguments.
Over time, it came to mean a reproof, reproach, reprimand, retort, rebuke, or admonition.
The Father’s constructive criticism is not intended to tear us down. Rather, its intended effect is to build us up.
What a beautiful idea! When the Father provides us with constructive criticism, life-giving reproof, He is at work to promote our well-being. He is acting like a loving parent encouraging each child of the King to become their best and live wisely.
He is working to actualize his dream for our lives. What part do we play? It is incumbent upon us to develop the skill of responding properly. “A teachable person will become wise” (Ross). The question we are to ask ourselves as we move through the vicissitudes of life is, “Father what do you want me to learn from this?”
How we respond to constructive criticism determines the people are comfortable with. “Those who receive wise reproof will be at home with the wise” (Butler).
When we do our best, entire new relationships open up to us. We will have the mom a new comfort level being around wise and godly people. In fact, we are drawn to them. Old unhealthy relationships often simply wither and fall off.
1 Peter 4:4 Of course, your former friends are surprised when you no longer plunge into the flood of wild and destructive things they do.
The book of Proverbs emphasizes the fact that “willingness to acquire wisdom, and to listen to good advice, leads to wisdom or makes a person wise and successful in life. For this reason it is probably best to understand this saying as ‘Whoever pays attention to helpful correction in life will become wise.’ CEV has ‘Healthy correction is good, and if you accept it, you will be wise’” (UBS).
To choose to live wisely is costly. It requires a proper response to reproof and discipline. The results are well worth the effort. Responding aright is life-altering, life-giving. It takes meekness and humility to be receptive and thankful for correction.
Matthew 16:24 Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”