Sometimes our harshest critics are our best friends. As we read the prophets in the Bible, it seems important that we don’t read them at a distance as if they are only a word to other people in another time and place. We need to let God use them to speak to us, too. All of the prophets shared one central message, “stop doing that, it is not right.” It’s a hard message that few people like to hear. When someone calls out our faults, we often get defensive, prideful, and look for justification for our actions rather than accepting the reality that our lives are peppered with bad habits, and misguided deeds. But if we were honest …
There have been times in my life when I have been called out by a friend (or the Holy Spirit) who noticed sin in my life, and my instinct was to justify it or ignore it, even though deep down inside (or just under the surface), I knew that their critique was accurate. The decision to ignore their prophetic voice has always led to bigger messes and deeper pain. If I would have listened, I would have been better off.
I can’t help but wonder if it was the same for the recipients of the harsh words from the prophets in the Bible. Did God’s people know that the words being said to them were true. If they would have just been humble enough to accept the correction could they have saved themselves from the pain and the destruction that came their way? Will we be wise and humble enough to change our course?
God wants to free us from the destructive power of the sin in our lives; God wants to make something beautiful out of the messes that we make; God wants to give us a joy-filled life that is pointed in the right direction, but for that to happen we need to listen to those voices. The voices of our friends, our critics, and the Holy Spirit who subtly (or overtly!) point out where we are not living right. If they are actually saving us from the eventual negative consequences of our misguided deeds, then our critics are actually our best friends. Maybe we need to be brave enough to let our best friends be our harshest critics.
This week, let’s name those trusted people in our lives who we go to when we need someone to point out our blind-spots and bad habits. Do we have people that we listen to? Do we seek out their input? Do we confess to them the conviction of our heart? Maybe God wants to use our friendships as a way for healing grace to enter our lives. I pray that we are wise and humble enough to let their words move us closer to God’s heart.