This post is so good, I’m including all of it.
Many quotes from the writings and sermons of Charles Spurgeon have served my soul over the years. And there is one particular quote that has served me big time when it comes to personal criticism. I review the quote either before personal criticism arrives (if I have advance warning), or after the criticism appears (if it was a surprise). It both prepares my heart for coming criticism, and provides perspective for my heart once the criticism has been shared.
Check it out:
Brother, if any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him; for you are worse than he thinks you to be. If he charges you falsely on some point, yet be satisfied, for if he knew you better he might change the accusation, and you would be no gainer by the correction. If you have your moral portrait painted, and it is ugly, be satisfied; for it only needs a few blacker touches, and it would be still nearer the truth.*
On different occasions over the years I have been on the receiving end of criticism from someone who appeared to have, well, a bad attitude. When this happens I am tempted to be offended by that attitude, and prematurely relieved, concluding that any criticism brought in such an attitude must certainly be inaccurate. And it might be inaccurate (or not). But even if the criticism is inaccurate, any relief I experience is a short-lived when I am reminded of Mr. Spurgeon’s words.
Even if the criticism is inaccurate, that leaves no room for my pride. This is due to the fact that I am more fully informed of my own sin than any critic. More importantly, God is perfectly informed of all my sins. So even if the correction is proven totally inaccurate, I shouldn’t be prouder for it.
Knowing this restrains me from too quickly criticizing and dismissing the perceptions of others, even if their correction is severe, even if their hearts don’t seem humble and kind, and even if their content is largely inaccurate. I can always learn from criticism one simple lesson: I am worse than they think!
Surgeon’s quote humbles me, restrains my pride, and reminds me that I always need a Savior even when others cannot accurately see the true depth of my own sin. I have learned over the years that even when criticism is inaccurate, it should humble me and remind me of God’s accurate moral portrait of sinners like me. It should remind me that even the most ill-informed criticism is still more flattering than the reality.
* Charles Spurgeon, sermon, “David Dancing before the Ark because of His Election,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 35.