“Just let it run off your back” he said in reference to criticism. He being a respected church elder, me the novice pastor.
It is hard to do. We want to retaliate. Strike back with a zinger of our own, I do! Often we do not, as we don’t have one at the ready. So the words sink in. We let it dampen our mood. We give it more credence than it deserves, even use it against ourselves. So to let criticism slide off like water is good advice.
However, is it Biblical? That’s the question since he and I were both believers.
Does that saying have any Biblical basis or warrant?
If the criticism is an insult meant to hurt, then it is good advice Biblically.
Since retaliation won’t work according to Proverbs 9:7.
While Isaiah 57:1 advises us not to fear the words of mere mortals
And Jesus did not retaliate when others insulted him but trusted himself to the one who judges justly, as Peter wrote in 1 Peter 2:23.
This does not mean we ignore the hurt caused by the insult nor delight in it as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:10. We can acknowledge that it hurts as in Psalm 22:7. Without being insulting in return we can communicate how another’s words have hurt us whether to God in prayer, through writing, conversing with a friend, or directly to the one who said it. They may hear it, understand and rephrase, explain, apologize, or it may be “pearls before swine” as Matthew writes.
Besides acknowledging, we can evaluate the criticism based on the following:
Who delivered it?
What is the factual content?
Why was it said?
Answering those questions can determine how much credence to give it if any. What we may perceive as an insult may actually be a fair critique of an area where we need to grow. Is it something to do with us personally, something we can legitimately change, or are we just a handy target for their vitriol. Believers will be attacked and insulted because of their faith as the Psalmist writes in Psalm 69:9. That is why in 2 Corinthians 12:10 Paul delighted in those insults, because it had to do with his belief in Christ, and not anything to do with Paul himself.
None of this is to excuse, minimize, or ignore the pain that both insult and critique causes. Both sting even legitimate critique spoken in love. A reaction or retaliation in the heat of the moment is not good or helpful. But a response of some type is necessary. We can choose to acknowledge that an insult or critique hurt us, valid or not. Then we must determine what we are going to do with it? How we will use it constructively, not destructively? We do have choices, not easy perhaps, but we do, God helping us.
A blog I found helpful was http://www.morningdevotionals.com/blog/insults-like-water-off-a-ducks-back-right.
If you choose to read it consider how we may preen the Holy Spirit over ourselves, so insults bead up and fall away, like water off a duck’s back.