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greenbaggins

Administrator
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Something I wrote on Reformation 21 a few years ago, but it seems perennially relevant:

Criticism is usually given much more freely on the internet than in person. It is one of the chief reasons why the internet seems to generate more heat than light. It is so easy to hit that "post" button when you don't have to face that person's reaction. In some ways, the internet can reveal our hearts better than personal interactions. This is why it is very important that we meditate on how to give and receive criticism. Proverbs tells us that the way we receive criticism marks us either as foolish or wise people.

Proverbs 9:7-12 occurs in a context of the choice between Lady Wisdom (verses 1-6) and Lady Folly (verses 13-18). The passage itself forms an envelope with chapter 1, especially since the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom is located in both places (1:7 and 9:10). The key verse for my purpose here is verse 8 (in the ESV): "Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you."

The first (and rather obvious) point is that the wise one responds to criticism in exactly the opposite way to the fool. The wise man loves the one who reproves him. The foolish person responds with hatred and scorn for the messenger. The contrast is explained in the enveloping verses. The scornful person's response is laid out in more detail in verse 7. Abuse and injury are the results that the reprover can expect from trying to correct the scornful. Verse 9, however, shows that greater wisdom and learning will be the result from reproving the wise man.

This shows us the underlying attitude towards correction and rebuke that the foolish and the wise have. The foolish person believes that he cannot improve anywhere, and that he is perfect just the way he is. He has enough experience in the ways of God, or he has enough letters after his name, in order to be someone of importance. That means he has arrived. The wise man, however, realizes that he is so far from God's standard that he always has room for improvement, no matter how mature he is in the Christian faith, how old he is, or how educated he is.

How is this possible? What is the logic here? The answer is in verse 10. If a person fears God, he will not fear man. Fear of God and fear of man is a zero-sum game. They cannot co-exist peacefully. The wrong reaction to criticism stems from the fear of man. Read that last sentence again. So, if a person fears God, he will react quite differently to criticism, because he is not trying to look good in front of men, but is instead seeking to please his God. It will be a perception of iron sharpening iron, rather than personal attacks. The person who fears God does not wrap up his identity in how other people think of him. Instead, his personal worth is entirely dependent on what God thinks of him. The wise man would rather look foolish to the whole world, rather than be foolish in God's eyes.

Our reaction to criticism, therefore, shows us the degree of pride and arrogance in our hearts, especially when the criticism has a mixture of truth and error in it, as is often the case. Do we focus on the incorrect part of the criticism, or do we seek for what is true in the criticism? If we are honest, we will have to admit that criticism is not our favorite way of gaining wisdom. We would rather get it from a book that isn't directly attacking us, or from someone who always phrases things in a positive way. Here, however, the proverb is plain: we are fools to hate the messenger who criticizes us, especially if that criticism has any validity whatsoever. Instead, we should thank the messenger for pointing out our blind spots.

When reviled, Jesus did not revile in turn. With Jesus, of course, all criticism is wide of the mark. He was actually perfect. There is no valid criticism of Him whatsoever. So, did Jesus blow up when people reviled Him? He was as a lamb silent before its shearers. This kind of thinking is quite foreign to most of us. If even the slightest criticism comes our way, we start World War III, even if the criticism is true! But if a calm reaction is Christ's response to wrongful criticism, then how much more positively should we receive criticism that has any truth in it?

So, our reaction to criticism should be much more humble. When criticism comes our way, we should analyze the criticism to see if there be anything true in it. If there is, we should be glad of that, and take it to heart. Anything that is not true should simply roll off our backs. We do not need to defend ourselves from every attack that comes our way.

Furthermore, we do not need to correct everyone on the internet who is wrong. A little application of the golden rule would greatly improve internet culture. Ask yourself if you would want to receive the criticism you are about to dish out. Ask yourself if you are writing in anger (don't do that unless you are absolutely convinced that it is a righteous anger, and even then you might want to ask someone you trust if it is so) or from love. If you are angry, you should be extremely hesitant to write anything. Ask yourself if you would say the same thing to that person if they were standing right in front of you. Use some imagination and seek to discern how the other person will perceive what you write. Pray about what you write. It is not a bad idea to pray over every comment and post that you write. Stick to the issue at hand, and do not attack the person. Insults immediately close people's ears.

Be wise about criticism, and not foolish. One has to think about these things in advance. There is no time to develop wisdom on the spot, in the middle of a cat fight. Think these things through in advance. Learn from your mistakes, and grow.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
One of the things that surprised me when I started posting on PB was how many preachers had thin skins. I would have thought that seminaries would have toughened them up like good law schools do.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
One of the things that surprised me when I started posting on PB was how many preachers had thin skins. I would have thought that seminaries would have toughened them up like good law schools do.

I take that personally Edward.... are you calling my school not good?





;)
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
What about those who point out that Jesus and Paul said mean things to people? Sometimes in letter form.

They did indeed, when the gospel was at stake. My OP speaks of the context of personal comments and things where the gospel is not at stake. Even when Paul was defending his apostleship, it was not for his own sake, but for the sake of the people he was shepherding. We have to be able to make the distinction between when the gospel is at stake, and when we have been personally attacked. They are NOT the same thing.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Junior
Something I wrote on Reformation 21 a few years ago, but it seems perennially relevant:

Criticism is usually given much more freely on the internet than in person. It is one of the chief reasons why the internet seems to generate more heat than light. It is so easy to hit that "post" button when you don't have to face that person's reaction. In some ways, the internet can reveal our hearts better than personal interactions. This is why it is very important that we meditate on how to give and receive criticism. Proverbs tells us that the way we receive criticism marks us either as foolish or wise people.

Proverbs 9:7-12 occurs in a context of the choice between Lady Wisdom (verses 1-6) and Lady Folly (verses 13-18). The passage itself forms an envelope with chapter 1, especially since the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom is located in both places (1:7 and 9:10). The key verse for my purpose here is verse 8 (in the ESV): "Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you."

The first (and rather obvious) point is that the wise one responds to criticism in exactly the opposite way to the fool. The wise man loves the one who reproves him. The foolish person responds with hatred and scorn for the messenger. The contrast is explained in the enveloping verses. The scornful person's response is laid out in more detail in verse 7. Abuse and injury are the results that the reprover can expect from trying to correct the scornful. Verse 9, however, shows that greater wisdom and learning will be the result from reproving the wise man.

This shows us the underlying attitude towards correction and rebuke that the foolish and the wise have. The foolish person believes that he cannot improve anywhere, and that he is perfect just the way he is. He has enough experience in the ways of God, or he has enough letters after his name, in order to be someone of importance. That means he has arrived. The wise man, however, realizes that he is so far from God's standard that he always has room for improvement, no matter how mature he is in the Christian faith, how old he is, or how educated he is.

How is this possible? What is the logic here? The answer is in verse 10. If a person fears God, he will not fear man. Fear of God and fear of man is a zero-sum game. They cannot co-exist peacefully. The wrong reaction to criticism stems from the fear of man. Read that last sentence again. So, if a person fears God, he will react quite differently to criticism, because he is not trying to look good in front of men, but is instead seeking to please his God. It will be a perception of iron sharpening iron, rather than personal attacks. The person who fears God does not wrap up his identity in how other people think of him. Instead, his personal worth is entirely dependent on what God thinks of him. The wise man would rather look foolish to the whole world, rather than be foolish in God's eyes.

Our reaction to criticism, therefore, shows us the degree of pride and arrogance in our hearts, especially when the criticism has a mixture of truth and error in it, as is often the case. Do we focus on the incorrect part of the criticism, or do we seek for what is true in the criticism? If we are honest, we will have to admit that criticism is not our favorite way of gaining wisdom. We would rather get it from a book that isn't directly attacking us, or from someone who always phrases things in a positive way. Here, however, the proverb is plain: we are fools to hate the messenger who criticizes us, especially if that criticism has any validity whatsoever. Instead, we should thank the messenger for pointing out our blind spots.

When reviled, Jesus did not revile in turn. With Jesus, of course, all criticism is wide of the mark. He was actually perfect. There is no valid criticism of Him whatsoever. So, did Jesus blow up when people reviled Him? He was as a lamb silent before its shearers. This kind of thinking is quite foreign to most of us. If even the slightest criticism comes our way, we start World War III, even if the criticism is true! But if a calm reaction is Christ's response to wrongful criticism, then how much more positively should we receive criticism that has any truth in it?

So, our reaction to criticism should be much more humble. When criticism comes our way, we should analyze the criticism to see if there be anything true in it. If there is, we should be glad of that, and take it to heart. Anything that is not true should simply roll off our backs. We do not need to defend ourselves from every attack that comes our way.

Furthermore, we do not need to correct everyone on the internet who is wrong. A little application of the golden rule would greatly improve internet culture. Ask yourself if you would want to receive the criticism you are about to dish out. Ask yourself if you are writing in anger (don't do that unless you are absolutely convinced that it is a righteous anger, and even then you might want to ask someone you trust if it is so) or from love. If you are angry, you should be extremely hesitant to write anything. Ask yourself if you would say the same thing to that person if they were standing right in front of you. Use some imagination and seek to discern how the other person will perceive what you write. Pray about what you write. It is not a bad idea to pray over every comment and post that you write. Stick to the issue at hand, and do not attack the person. Insults immediately close people's ears.

Be wise about criticism, and not foolish. One has to think about these things in advance. There is no time to develop wisdom on the spot, in the middle of a cat fight. Think these things through in advance. Learn from your mistakes, and grow.
That was really excellent and humbling
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
They did indeed, when the gospel was at stake. My OP speaks of the context of personal comments and things where the gospel is not at stake. Even when Paul was defending his apostleship, it was not for his own sake, but for the sake of the people he was shepherding. We have to be able to make the distinction between when the gospel is at stake, and when we have been personally attacked. They are NOT the same thing.
Thanks. That makes sense and is very helpful.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
One of the positive applications for the forth commandment given by Henry Scudder and others of his time includes showing deference toward those God has put into a position of responsibility like pastors.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I take that personally Edward.... are you calling my school not good?

You've never gotten a good chewing out from a judge (deserved or not) or gone toe to toe with a cutthroat lawyer or even a friendly, rough and tumble exchange with a non-like minded associate over some arcane constitutional point?
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
You've never gotten a good chewing out from a judge (deserved or not) or gone toe to toe with a cutthroat lawyer or even a friendly, rough and tumble exchange with a non-like minded associate over some arcane constitutional point?

Are you challenging Vic to a duel?
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Junior
Something I wrote on Reformation 21 a few years ago, but it seems perennially relevant:

Criticism is usually given much more freely on the internet than in person. It is one of the chief reasons why the internet seems to generate more heat than light. It is so easy to hit that "post" button when you don't have to face that person's reaction. In some ways, the internet can reveal our hearts better than personal interactions. This is why it is very important that we meditate on how to give and receive criticism. Proverbs tells us that the way we receive criticism marks us either as foolish or wise people.

Proverbs 9:7-12 occurs in a context of the choice between Lady Wisdom (verses 1-6) and Lady Folly (verses 13-18). The passage itself forms an envelope with chapter 1, especially since the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom is located in both places (1:7 and 9:10). The key verse for my purpose here is verse 8 (in the ESV): "Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you."

The first (and rather obvious) point is that the wise one responds to criticism in exactly the opposite way to the fool. The wise man loves the one who reproves him. The foolish person responds with hatred and scorn for the messenger. The contrast is explained in the enveloping verses. The scornful person's response is laid out in more detail in verse 7. Abuse and injury are the results that the reprover can expect from trying to correct the scornful. Verse 9, however, shows that greater wisdom and learning will be the result from reproving the wise man.

This shows us the underlying attitude towards correction and rebuke that the foolish and the wise have. The foolish person believes that he cannot improve anywhere, and that he is perfect just the way he is. He has enough experience in the ways of God, or he has enough letters after his name, in order to be someone of importance. That means he has arrived. The wise man, however, realizes that he is so far from God's standard that he always has room for improvement, no matter how mature he is in the Christian faith, how old he is, or how educated he is.

How is this possible? What is the logic here? The answer is in verse 10. If a person fears God, he will not fear man. Fear of God and fear of man is a zero-sum game. They cannot co-exist peacefully. The wrong reaction to criticism stems from the fear of man. Read that last sentence again. So, if a person fears God, he will react quite differently to criticism, because he is not trying to look good in front of men, but is instead seeking to please his God. It will be a perception of iron sharpening iron, rather than personal attacks. The person who fears God does not wrap up his identity in how other people think of him. Instead, his personal worth is entirely dependent on what God thinks of him. The wise man would rather look foolish to the whole world, rather than be foolish in God's eyes.

Our reaction to criticism, therefore, shows us the degree of pride and arrogance in our hearts, especially when the criticism has a mixture of truth and error in it, as is often the case. Do we focus on the incorrect part of the criticism, or do we seek for what is true in the criticism? If we are honest, we will have to admit that criticism is not our favorite way of gaining wisdom. We would rather get it from a book that isn't directly attacking us, or from someone who always phrases things in a positive way. Here, however, the proverb is plain: we are fools to hate the messenger who criticizes us, especially if that criticism has any validity whatsoever. Instead, we should thank the messenger for pointing out our blind spots.

When reviled, Jesus did not revile in turn. With Jesus, of course, all criticism is wide of the mark. He was actually perfect. There is no valid criticism of Him whatsoever. So, did Jesus blow up when people reviled Him? He was as a lamb silent before its shearers. This kind of thinking is quite foreign to most of us. If even the slightest criticism comes our way, we start World War III, even if the criticism is true! But if a calm reaction is Christ's response to wrongful criticism, then how much more positively should we receive criticism that has any truth in it?

So, our reaction to criticism should be much more humble. When criticism comes our way, we should analyze the criticism to see if there be anything true in it. If there is, we should be glad of that, and take it to heart. Anything that is not true should simply roll off our backs. We do not need to defend ourselves from every attack that comes our way.

Furthermore, we do not need to correct everyone on the internet who is wrong. A little application of the golden rule would greatly improve internet culture. Ask yourself if you would want to receive the criticism you are about to dish out. Ask yourself if you are writing in anger (don't do that unless you are absolutely convinced that it is a righteous anger, and even then you might want to ask someone you trust if it is so) or from love. If you are angry, you should be extremely hesitant to write anything. Ask yourself if you would say the same thing to that person if they were standing right in front of you. Use some imagination and seek to discern how the other person will perceive what you write. Pray about what you write. It is not a bad idea to pray over every comment and post that you write. Stick to the issue at hand, and do not attack the person. Insults immediately close people's ears.

Be wise about criticism, and not foolish. One has to think about these things in advance. There is no time to develop wisdom on the spot, in the middle of a cat fight. Think these things through in advance. Learn from your mistakes, and grow.
I can't believe you would say this! How judgmental and harsh! You are completely misinterpreting us and need to repent! Lol, just kidding. Those are very wise words of yours, and very true. Thanks for the great reminder that in all things in life we are representing Christ to others. I praise God for men like you who are not only very doctrinally sound, but who love all that is good as well. Just as we need shepherds who teach us the right doctrines, we need shepherds who lead us in righteousness. Keep up the great work!
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Lane is getting back at me for all those Romanists I nailed on his blog some years back. lol

But given the opportunity, everything I said I would have been thrilled to offer in their presence, if for no other reason than to watch them squirm. But I did it all in the spirit of William Whitaker and William Goode, both of whom I have good reason to believe are now part of the church triumphant!
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
In case anybody is wondering, my post was an attempt at humor. I may have a thin skin, but I'd never let anyone notice.... ;)
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
You've never gotten a good chewing out from a judge (deserved or not) or gone toe to toe with a cutthroat lawyer or even a friendly, rough and tumble exchange with a non-like minded associate over some arcane constitutional point?

Well, yes. All of the above and almost every week.

Sorry for derailing the thread. I try to take what Lane posted to heart.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
Lane is getting back at me for all those Romanists I nailed on his blog some years back. lol

But given the opportunity, everything I said I would have been thrilled to offer in their presence, if for no other reason than to watch them squirm. But I did it all in the spirit of William Whitaker and William Goode, both of whom I have good reason to believe are now part of the church triumphant!

David, I have read your entire three-volume series you wrote with Mr. Webster, and have read all your comments on my blog, so I have a pretty good feel for where you are, and how you write. You are never personally rude. I haven't seen it even once. You trounce false doctrine until it becomes a miserable pulp, but that is what good theologians do. And it is not rude to call false theologians what they are. It is actually protecting the sheep.
 

DTK

Puritan Board Junior
Well, when dealing with what becomes increasingly apparent to be abject, willful, and incorrigible ignorance, it does require a labor of love and perseverance to stay focused on sound argumentation in the face of an opponent who is determined to maintain the self-deception of trotting around in the "emperor's new clothes" no matter how much the nakedness of his ruse becomes. At times it is astonishing to behold even when we know, in our heart of hearts, but for the grace of God there I go.

It is, to be sure, a sound approach to pause to remember that we are engaging another creature who is likewise made in the image of God. Lane's post is such a reminder to us all.
 
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