Have you ever been the victim of unjust criticism? How did it make you feel? Have you participated in carping criticism? Have you noticed that some people seem to be born in the “objective case” and “kickative mood”? They rarely see anything positive in anyone or anything. They are forever complaining about or criticizing something. They never seem satisfied. Criticism is one of Satan’s major weapons to impede progress. Criticism divides a man’s power and prevents his being a force for anything. A saying that was often repeated by people of the previous generation was that if you punch a dog in the nose long enough, he will stop wagging his tail. In other words, if you criticize a person long enough and severely enough it will eventually wear him down and discourage him from making real progress. It has the effect of knocking all the gumption and power out of a person.
The Old Testament character Nehemiah was a victim of the kind of extreme and unjust criticism about which we’re speaking. He came along at a very strategic time in the history of Israel. The Israelites were granted permission by their conquerors, the Medes and Persians, to return to their homeland in Canaan and resume their normal life. They zealously rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem, planted their crops, tended to their flocks, and built their houses. However, after 100 years, the walls of the city of Jerusalem were still in disrepair. When Nehemiah heard of this, he sat down and wept and mourned for days. He gained permission from the Medo-Persian king to return to his homeland and assist in the rebuilding of the walls. Some of the other kings in the area near Jerusalem were disturbed that these walls were being rebuilt. They tried to pull political strings to have the work program stopped. They exerted strong pressure on Nehemiah and his supporters to cease the construction. They mocked, ridiculed, and criticized the effort hoping that this would weaken their resolve. They said the wall that was being rebuilt was so weak that even if a fox jumped on it, it would break down.
However, Nehemiah and the people of Israel were determined to finish the work and they did so in 52 days! For 100 years the walls were in ruin; but, under his leadership, the people successfully rebuilt them in a short time in spite of the ridicule and criticism they received.
Criticism is something that we cannot avoid entirely, even when we may be doing the right thing. In fact, sometimes people are criticized for doing the right thing by those who have no interest in righteous conduct. Abraham Lincoln’s philosophy toward criticism is revealed in these words: “If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how, the very best I can and I mean to keep on doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me won’t matter. If the end brings me out wrong, then ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”
Lincoln was right. We need to rise above criticism and not allow it to prevent us from doing the right thing. Rather than being guilty of unjust criticism, we need ourselves to be as complimentary as possible. Compliments never hurt people; in fact, more people die from broken hearts than swelled heads.