Topic: The Traps of Criticism
Text: 1 Samuel 25:4-31
Key verse: This is what he said: Who does this David think he is? That son of Jesse is just one more slave on the run from his master, and there are too many of them these days. – 1 Samuel 25:10
Nabal had heard about David before this time, and his perception of him was that of a runaway servant. He did not hide his displeasure with him but expressed it in a most hurtful way.
Take note that David was a warrior who was being pursued out of jealousy by his master King Saul and he had been of good service to Nabal and his shepherds during his stay in their neighbourhood.
How did David respond to the humiliation given to his men who went to rejoice with Nabal and ask for some help? You can imagine what David meant by this statement; “I swear that by morning, there won’t be a man or boy left from his family or his servants’ families. I pray that God will punish me if I don’t do it!”- 1 Samuel 25:22
When we are criticized by people who don’t know us very well it hurts, but it even feels worse when we are perceived as evil by people who ought to know us better especially those whom we have served. The first reaction you may have is to clarify the facts and defend yourself.
Secondly, you may fall into the trap of taking action against the person who has spoken ill against you. This may lead you to say or do things you may regret later. Abigail counselled David to beware of that trap and avoid the bitter pill of regret.
”The Lord has promised to do many good things for you, even to make you the ruler of Israel. The Lord will keep His promises to you, and now your conscience will be clear because you won’t be guilty of taking revenge and killing innocent people. When the Lord does all those good things for you, please remember me. – 1 Samuel 25:30, 31
Don’t use your weapons to fight against your critics, let God handle them. You may have access to information about them that might even be more offensive, don’t use it.
I have learned with the help of the Holy Spirit, that your mind is not equipped with the ability or power to resist falling into these traps, instead, it simply helps you process the meaning and implications of the words or way you or your issues have been handled. The power to overcome the trap of criticism is the power of the Holy Spirit at work in you.
When your mind processes abuse, hurt, humiliation, denial, or any negative feelings, several options come to your mind on how to respond, people might make a suggestion, Satan will send his ideas, but also note that the Holy Spirit will counsel you also on the appropriate reaction. Whom you choose to obey is your master.
Don’t you know that you are slaves of anyone you obey? You can be slaves of sin and die, or you can be obedient slaves of God and be acceptable to him. – Romans 6:16
We have received the Holy Spirit to help us deal with these kinds of issues, never rely on your mind in times like this, no matter how knowledgeable of the scriptures you are, the power to resist evil and sin comes from the spirit.
Give yourself time to process the criticism by responding with gratitude to the critic if you are there with them, and ask for time to look into their comments. Remember you have a scripture to aid you to sieve out the junk in Philippians 4:8.
We know that God allows things to happen for our good, so as you examine the criticism be honest to admit your faults if any, but be quick to forgive the offence if it is unjustified and move on in your life.
The trap of guilt is equally as painful as that of criticism, don’t be prey to either of them by seeking revenge.
Abigail gives us another key in her wise words to David. She turns his attention to the future, to the promises of God that will surely come to pass.
“The Lord has promised to do many good things for you, even to make you the ruler of Israel. The Lord will keep His promises to you, – 1 Samuel 25:30
Be future-focused, don’t dwell on the past, your tomorrow is greater than your yesterday. The winning mindset is one that will quickly trade the painful past for a glorious future.
Criticism makes you live in the past, in the shadow of one person’s opinion, but hope in the promises of God gives you light and strength through the seasons of pain till your change comes.
Prayer: I need your help Holy Spirit, to manage the traps of criticism and overcome them in Jesus’ name. Amen.