I Love Criticism — but there’s a limit

I’ve not always liked criticism. There was a time when I avoided it. A Monday afternoon counseling session and much practice changed that. My new rule is: I love criticism! Criticism Rule for Leaders

But, there are people who are difficult. There are people who are evil (wicked, malicious, mischievous (Romans 1:28-32). Must I continue to be hurt and abused by this person?

Paul explains our aim in peacemaking.

If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18, NKJV).

Consider Jesus’ explanation of “as much as depends on you.” For years I read the Sermon on the Mount and thought Jesus said I had to take continual and constant abuse from others. Let’s read again.

Two Slaps, Two Coats, Two Miles

Jesus is describing an abusive, overbearing, demanding person. He tells me I’m not to be offended at the first supposed injury or sign of neglect. This is to assure me and others I’m dealing with an abusive, overbearing, demanding person and not being overly sensitive or having a bad day.

Jesus said

  • Take two slaps (Matthew 5:38, 39). He didn’t say to let a person continue to beat you. Notice Paul’s resistance to being abused (Acts 22:22-29).
  • Give two coats (Matthew 5:40). He didn’t say to cash out your 401K and invite him to move into your house.
  • Walk two miles (Matthew 5:41). He didn’t say to carry his knapsack to Rome.

Jesus followed by describing our response to enemies: treat people right who treat you wrong, regardless of how you feel (Matthew 5:43-48, Romans 12:17-21).

Two Visits, Two Witnesses, Two Warnings−Don’t Let That Person Hurt You Any More

After it’s clear to you and others you’re being loving to a malicious person, it’s time to stop the hurt.

  • Two visits (Matthew 18:15-17). Start with personal entreaty. Involve more people to encourage the person to change or be stopped from continued hurting.
  • Two witnesses (Matthew 18:16; 1 Timothy 5:19). Enlist other good people to help with possible reconciliation.
  • Two warnings (Titus 3:10, 11). Jesus taught: three strikes and you’re out. Paul told Titus another plan: two strikes and you’re out. When someone is trying to divide God’s people, quickly reject them. Set boundaries. Stop their hurting of others.

Our Hope Is In Our Pain

Pain can be productive (Romans 5:1-5, James 1:2-5).

For pain to be productive, it’s helpful to be:

  • Anticipated (Matthew 16:21, Job 14:1).
  • Chosen (John 10:17, 18, Philippians 3:8-11).
  • Managed (Matthew 26:53, 54, 2 Timothy 1:12).

Listening to Jesus in Matthew 5 teaches us to manage our pain inflicted by others.

I’ll go out of my way to get along with others: two slaps, two coats, two miles. No one has permission to continue to abuse me. There’s a limit. As we grow and change, we may want to change our rules also.

Here are some examples of boundaries common to codependents who are recovering:

I will not allow anyone to physically or verbally abuse me. I will not knowingly believe or support lies.

I will not allow chemical abuse in my home.

I will not allow criminal behavior in my home.

I will not rescue people from the consequences of their alcohol abuse or other irresponsible behavior.

I will not finance a person’s alcoholism or other irresponsible behavior. I will not lie to protect you or me from your alcoholism.

I will not use my home as a detoxification center for recovering alcoholics.
If you want to act crazy that’s your business, but you can’t do it in front of me. Either you leave or I’ll walk away. You can spoil your fun, your day, your life−that’s your business−but I won’t let you spoil my fun, my day, or my life (Codependent No More, by Melody Beattie, pages 200, 201).

There’re two great commandments: love God and love my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:29-31). I don’t want some people loving me as they love themselves. They don’t love themselves. I’m not helping people when I let them continually hurt me and others. I don’t love others when I let them continue to hurt me.

We’ve been considering how I should respond to a difficult person. But, what if I’m a difficult person? Is it possible that I or someone reading this post is the one difficult person in this group?

What if it’s me — or you? You or I need to

  • Quit slapping.
  • Quit suing.
  • Quit demanding.
  • Repent when I have been overbearing (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9).
  • Repent when I have offended — even when others don’t.
  • Repent of the “little” I’ve done wrong when others have done more and bigger things wrong.
  • Remove my planks and specks before others remove their specks and planks (Matthew 7:1-5).
  • Remove my planks and specks even if others never remove their planks and specks.
  • Do all I can to be reconciled with someONE before I’m reconciled with EVERYone (Matthew 5:23, 24).
  • Get started soon (James 4:13-17).
  • Practice often (1 John 1:7).
  • Let the healing begin.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16).

Where and when do you set a limit of others inflicting pain on you or on ones you love?

(Visited 586 times, 38 visits today)
Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

4 Responses to “I Love Criticism — but there’s a limit

  • Eddison Fowler
    8 months ago

    Excellent article, brother Jerrie. This applies to all of us in one way or another, at one time or another. May we take heed.

    • Eddison,

      Thank you. It’s always encouraging when someone calls (writes) long-distance.

      May God continue to bless you and your work.

    8 months ago


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