It was always really difficult for me to accept criticism about something that I had done with good intentions. To be honest, it was one of my biggest weaknesses. Whenever I was criticised about something, I would struggle with a lot of dark thoughts and discouragement. I would feel that I wasn’t good enough. I would feel that I was misunderstood and I would doubt if I was really able to do good.
After this had happened a number of times, I began to seriously wonder about what the cause of the problem was. Why didn’t things work out well when I was sure that I had faithfully obeyed the things that God had worked in me?
Then one day these verses came to my mind: “I know that good does not live in me—that is, in my human nature. For even though the desire to do good is in me, I am not able to do it.” Romans 7:18 (GNT). “As it is written: ‘There is no one who always does what is right, not even one. There is no one who understands. There is no one who looks to God for help. All have turned away. Together, everyone has become useless. There is no one who does anything good; there is not even one.’” Romans 3:10-12 (NCV).
When I read these verses, it became clear to me that I have sin in my nature that affects all the good that I try to do. As a result, my self-will comes through whenever I try to do something good. I see that despite wanting to do good, I also want to be praised and thanked and I have expectations about how I should be treated, and so on. But did this mean that I should stop trying to do what was good? That wouldn’t have been right either.
The solution came when I realised that I first had to admit the truth - that there is nothing good in my human nature. Then, I had to come to faith in God’s promises that are written throughout the Bible. I had to start believing that God is able to cleanse me from sin and change me to become like Jesus, little by little each day, as it’s written in Romans 8:29.
Faith in God’s promises became my best friend
Faith in God’s promises became my best friend, and I held on to this verse: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT).
The more I read God’s word, the more verses and promises I had to hold on to. For example, there was Colossians 3:23-24 (NCV): “In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people. Remember that you will receive your reward from the Lord, which he promised to his people. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
Drawing back when I get criticism or negative feedback is a thing of the past, because I no longer give in to what I feel. I choose rather to humble myself, admit the truth and fight to overcome the negative thoughts, feelings, and temptations that come up in me in these situations. When I do this, God can work with me and change me. Each day, in all circumstances, I can find the anger, pride and other sin that is in me, admit it and in time, I can become a completely new person filled with the fruits of the Spirit. What a miracle!
My testimony is that I can’t remember when last I was discouraged. It is impossible for me to be discouraged if I believe God’s promises! Then I am free from inferiority complexes, comparing myself with others, jealousy, feeling accused, etc. Satan, who wants to accuse me all the time (Revelation 12:10), has to flee from me, because he has no hold on me when I admit the truth and thank and praise God that He will change me, little by little. I also hold on to the thought that over time, “little by little” becomes a lot!
“… so that you will live the kind of life that honors and pleases the Lord in every way. You will produce fruit in every good work and grow in the knowledge of God. God will strengthen you with his own great power so that you will not give up when troubles come, but you will be patient.” Colossians 1:10-11 (NCV).
I thank God that it is possible to be free from all discouragement and feelings of not being good enough. I thank Him that I can see what He wants to show me about myself each day and that I can rejoice that I can change and become more like Jesus.