I’ve written about criticism a number of times now. A lot of what I’ve written is encouraging you, the reader, to be mindful of how you critique and how you receive critique. This blog however is about our exchange for criticism that cost nothing.
I was listening to a webinar with Jon Acuff and he shares that our exchange for criticism that costs nothing is vital. What exactly are criticisms that cost nothing? For starters, they are the hate comments we receive whenever we post a picture or share an idea. The criticisms that cost nothing are those that took little effort from the one doing the critique. Criticisms that cost nothing are the ones that stem purely from jealousy, envy, and pride. These types of criticisms that took little effort from the critic are the ones we tend to waste our breath on.
Criticism that costs nothing, is worth nothing.-Jon Acuff
Too often our exchange for cheap criticism is all wasting our breath. We defend and plead our case to no avail. Why? To simply prove a point or to make ourselves appear we know what we’re doing? Here’s a pro tip, don’t waste your breath. What I’ve learned is, someone’s 10-second comment does not require a 10-minute response. That’s not a fair trade. A critique that took little effort and was neither constructive nor uplifting does not require me pleading my case. That position is neither arrogant nor pompous. It’s simply being wise with your exchange of time. Time is too precious to waste your breath on cheap criticism.
Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue. - Proverbs 11:12
Solomon, the author of Proverbs, was known for his wisdom. He is often recognized for his understanding of the world. In Proverbs 11:12 Solomon eloquently encourages readers to hold their tongue.
Let’s first take a look at what the first half of Proverbs 11:12 is saying; specifically, the word derides. According to Google, it means to express contempt for; ridicule. Synonyms that fall into the same word group as derides are, insult, taunt, ridicule, mock, torment, and the list goes on. Now let’s get back to the verse. It can be read, Whoever [insults, taunt, ridicule, mock, torment] has no sense. So your neighbor who’s your friend, family, co-worker, social media follower, or even a bystander, when they insult, taunt, ridicule, mock, or torment you has no sense. That’s not to say they are dull rather the place from which they speak isn’t one of value.
While it’s easy to simply focus on the first half of Proverbs 11:12, don’t be quick to bask simply in that. The real meat is found in the second half. Solomon charges those who read his work or the one who has understanding, to hold their tongue. The key is our response to cheap criticism. When we hold our tongues and waste not our breath, that shows understanding. That shows maturity. That shows our understanding in first, who God says we are, and secondly, that which we know we are called to do.
People will always have something to say. Whether family or someone you’re meeting for the first time, they will always have something to say. And while in most cases, they mean well, you will find there are occasions where cheap criticism is given more than ones that matter. If you find yourself surrounded by 10-second, half thought-through criticism, don’t waste your breath with a response. Hold your tongue and keep on with the goal you have set before you. It’s not a fair exchange to give 10 minutes of your time to a 10-second comment. It’s not worth your breath to beat a dead horse. Often those that deride are jealous, envious, and prideful which can translate to hearts that are dead to see good. Don’t waste your breath. Hold your tongue and keep on keeping on.