Is someone in your life overly critical of you or unusually harsh with you? Maybe it’s someone close—a spouse, a boss, a friend, a parent. If you’ve been at the receiving end of caustic words and attitudes, or if you recognize having the heart of a critic yourself, God’s Word offers practical solutions to such critical clamor. These Keys for Living will show you how to respond to harsh criticism, confront someone with a critical spirit, accept constructive criticism, and triumph over negative criticism with truth.

Women of Faith's Keys for Living Library provides biblical hope and practical help on a variety of topics to help you overcome difficulties, grow in maturity, and move forward in life. The Keys for Living were created to help you … and help you help others. The Keys are great for personal study and growth, small group studies, and for teaching and training purposes. Go deeper in your understanding and practical application of Biblical truth.

Confronting the Heart of a Critic

The phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones and words can never hurt me!” couldn’t be further from the truth. Words can be catastrophic, tearing through your heart like a tornado roaring down a residential street. While there may not be any visible destruction, the damage to your spirit can be just as devastating as a row of demolished homes.

Although the initial sting of harsh words is evident, you may be unaware of the lingering effects. Overly critical words leave you with hurt feelings and a poor self-image. Being wounded by someone with a critical spirit often changes how you see yourself. God holds us all accountable for how we use our words  especially the ones that hurt. Critical words don’t come from a wise heart, nor do they reflect God’s heart. Only He can heal your spirit and teach you how to respond to criticism. He’s waiting to enrich your heart with encouragement, both for your good and for the good of others.

“Curse God and die!”

The words spew out of the mouth of an embittered wife who isstunned and stymied by tragedy. Gone … destroyed … are all their possessions and all their children as a result of God’s allowing Satan to test her godly husband in order to prove his faith. 

Job mourns their losses but doesn’t malign the goodness of God. Instead he submits himself to the sovereignty of God by declaring, 

“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” 

Job 1:21

 “Curse God and die!” is her retort, especially after seeing her husband suddenly stricken—afflicted from head to toe with painful sores. She observes this once respected man—so revered in the community—now scorned and reduced to sitting in a pile of ashes scraping his sores with a jagged piece of pottery. 

Job’s noble stance before the Lord is absolute nonsense to her. She doesn’t want to hear one more word of devotion from her disease-ridden husband. 

A critical spirit consumes the wife of the one whom God calls “… the greatest man among all the people…” (Job 1:3). However, she’s had enough, and she wants Job … and God … to know it! 

“Are you still maintaining your integrity?” she pounds, unleashing her toxic tongue: “Curse God and die!” 

Job 2:9 

Everything is fine … until they open their mouths. 

They are aghast at the sight before them … their once highly respected friend is now horrifically humbled. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar (Eli, Bill, and Zo for short) have set out from their homes to pour out comforting words upon their troubled friend, but now they find themselves speechless. For seven days and seven nights they sit on the ground and commiserate, and “No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:13). 

Soon their sympathetic presence morphs into a barrage of stinging rebuke that further crushes the spirit of poor Job. He responds in deep emotional pain.… 

“Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.”

Job 6:14 

Like Job’s friends, has someone in your life assumed the role of your personal heavenly sandpaper … a self-appointed expert at finding fault and continually focusing on your faults in an attempt to “refine” you? The abrasive words are not helpful, but hurtful, and qualify as verbal and emotional abuse. Such criticism grates against the grain of your soul … wearing you down … stripping you of your worth. 

God holds all of us accountable for how we use our words, especially words that wound. Harsh, critical words don’t pour out of the hearts of godly people. Jesus said … 

“For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.”

Matthew 12:34–35



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Do you or do you know someone who has additional questions or requires help?

If so, please choose Women of Faith's other resources on this and other relevant topics (Quick Reference Guide, Keys for Living Books and e-Books).

Grace Filled Words:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 

2 Timothy 1:7 

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Colossians 4:6

Additional Scriptures:

Mark 4:19

Luke 21:34

James 3:1–12

NOTICE:  The information contained in this resource is general in nature and is not intended to provide or be a substitute for advice, consultation or treatment with a duly licensed mental health practitioner or other medical professional. This resource is intended to provide practical faith-based guidelines for balanced living and is not a replacement for medical advice. Professional services should be pursued whenever necessary and/or appropriate. By utilizing this resource, individuals acknowledge that Women of Faith is not providing direct clinically-oriented mental health treatment or therapy, and that it does not create a therapeutic relationship between any individual and Women of Faith.  Individuals who use this resource also agree to indemnify and hold harmless, Women of Faith, its licensees, affiliates, and assigns, as well as the officers, agents, and employees of Women of Faith and its licensees, affiliates, and assigns, from and against any and all liability, loss, damages, costs, charges, legal fees, recoveries, judgments, penalties, and expenses, which may be obtained against, imposed upon or suffered by Women of Faith.Additionally, certain views and opinions expressed in this resource may be those from sources other than Women of Faith and do not necessarily represent the views of Women of Faith, nor imply an endorsement by Women of Faith. All rights are reserved worldwide and no part of this resource may be reproduced in any form (print or electronic) without the expressed written permission of Women of Faith.

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