I think every one of us recognize that we don’t get everything right. We all make mistakes sometimes. So why is it so hard to respond gracefully when someone points one out to us? Why is defensiveness and outrage our first natural reaction to criticism ?
Both of our readings today discuss reacting to reproof. Lamentations 2:14 illustrates the dangers of having only encouragers speaking into your life:
“Your prophets saw visions for you that were empty and deceptive; they did not reveal your guilt and so restore your fortunes. They saw oracles for you that were empty and misleading.”
The book of Lamentations is written looking back after crashing into the bitter end of that way of living. Hebrews 12 is all about God’s correction and how we respond to it. Verses 5 and 6 tell us:
“My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly or faint when you are reproved by Him, for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He receives.”
Everyone who speaks uncomfortable words of correction into our lives is helping keep us from destruction: we should learn to be grateful for it, especially if we know it’s from God. I’m by nature a very non-confrontational person, so the other half of this is the one that I have a hard time with: if God shows you a blind spot you need to point out to someone, it’s not doing them a favor if you just ignore it and let them go on their way. I usually try to look the other way instead of speaking to someone, and that’s not healthy for them or for me.
Correcting each other (in a loving attitude and gentle manner!) is an important part of being the body of Christ, and accepting that correction when someone gives it to us is an important part of how God matures us as believers. Both sides are often difficult and uncomfortable (at least for people like me), but both sides are also very important.