Guess What I Heard About You

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With God’s help, you can take the unkind words of others as opportunities to become wise. Here’s how.

Bible Reading: Proverbs 19:19-23

Get all the advice and instruction you can, and be wise the rest ofyour life. Proverbs 19:20

YOU TELL YOUR FRIEND you signed up for the football team. “Are you kidding?” he snorts. “The only position the coach will let you play is left end-of the bench!”

You come home and announce that you’re trying out for the chorus in your school’s spring drama production. Your older sister scowls. “Why are you doing that? You couldn’t carry a tune if it came in a bucket.”

You walk into a party proud of your new outfit. Two students eye you up and down. You hear one of them say, “She always wears cheap outfits.”

Criticism stings. And if you don’t deal with the hurt you feel, it makes yourself image stink. No one escapes getting stung by others. But with God’s help you can take the unkind words of others as opportunities to become wise. Here’s how.

First, decide if the criticism is deserved. If it is, you have something to work on. Sometimes criticism is what it takes to make us correct flaws, change motivations, and learn to be sensitive to others.

Second, sometimes your critic was honestly trying to help, so say thanks for the input. But it won’t help anyone if you sass something like, “Thanks. I so very much value the opinion of a jerk like you.”

Third, remember who you are: God’s much-loved child. You are valued, accepted, and gifted. Don’t let the criticism damage that view of yourself.

So what do you do when someone compliments you? It’s easy to go to one of two extremes. One extreme? False humility. You deny any positive quality or accomplishment by saying something like, “No, no, no. I’m just a dung-burrowing worm.” That makes people sick. Everyone knows that inside you’re screaming, “Say it again! Tell me again how great I am!”

The other extreme is to agree with the person who compliments you to the point of bragging. You know people like that. You say one nice thing and they remind you of twenty other things they do well.

When you get a compliment, first see if it is deserved. If it isn’t, pass the credit on to someone else. If it is, simply say, “Thank you.”

For every compliment, whisper a thanks to Jesus. After all, he is the source of your gifts, abilities, looks, and personality. If you hold on to the compliments instead of giving credit to God, you forget that he is your source and you start believing that you’re the source. That’s pride.

REFLECT: Have you been criticized or complimented recently? How did you react?

PRAY: Ask God to help you receive criticism and compliments with grace.

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