– Tim Tebow
Maybe they’re Right
Sometimes people might be negative towards us because they’re right. I think I’ve learned a lot from the criticism of others but I pay special attention to my friends because I know “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov 27:6) and “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts” (Prov 20:30) so God clearly sees that criticisms sometimes are valid ones and that these can help us grow. Your friends love you enough to tell you the truth.
Maybe they’re Jealous
Did you ever think that someone might be criticizing you because they’re jealous of you or your job or your family or even something else? Their negativity could be an expression of their own frustrations, disappointments, and heartaches in life. They are hurt and wounded. How do we respond? Jesus tells us “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt 5:44-45). Perhaps they’re not saved and they see the peace and joy that’s in your life and that it’s not dependent upon circumstances. A negative person just might need the gospel. Respond in love and grace, share the gospel, pray for them, and trust God with the results.
Makes you Stronger
Like an athlete sometimes runs with ankle weights, we can be made stronger by the weight of negative things that happen to us in our life. We who are saved know that everything that happens to us is going to work out for our very best (Rom 8:28). Interestingly, a tree grows most rapidly during times of fierce wind storms. The tree growth rate suddenly spikes when strong resistance is sensed against it (e.g. the wind). It grows faster than when it’s in the sunshine, right after a rain, and even during calm periods.
Never waste another criticism. Use them to see if maybe they’re right and there is room for improvement; possibly they’re jealous and what’s missing in their life is Christ; and use them like an athlete would resistance training. What can’t kill you can only make you stronger.