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People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray.

Sunday 10 December

Proverbs 10:17
It isn’t easy when someone corrects us. I can recall many moments when people have told me that I have got something wrong. Most of the time they have spoken gently and sensitively but that hasn’t always been the case. There have been times when I have been criticised and the memory of those moments still stings. Some of them happened decades ago but the emotions are still quite raw. However, the writer of Proverbs is confident that being disciplined is so good for us that it leads to life. King Solomon in Ecclesiastes spoke similarly when he wrote: “Better to be criticised by a wise person than to be praised by a fool” (Ecclesiastes 7:5).

There is no doubt that our natural reaction to being corrected or criticised is to be defensive. However, it is usually best simply to listen to what is being said and to say nothing. Then we can take time to calmly reflect on what has been said. Even if most of it was off target, there may be some nuggets of wisdom that don’t need to be missed.

The writer of Proverbs knew that those who fail to listen to any correction place themselves in a very dangerous place. They arrogantly believe that they are right whatever they do and are likely to face disaster.

There is no promise that discipline and criticism will suddenly become enjoyable. However, if we listen to others with care and grace, we can be sure that God will use such moments to make us stronger and wiser.

How do you handle criticism and how could you handle it better?

Loving God, help me to listen carefully and graciously to other people, even when it is hard to hear what they have to say. Amen


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