Other times it is a pain in the heart.
The wonderful thing about being a Christian is that the Holy Spirit is continually on duty to convict us of our sin, our failings, and our lack of sensitivity.
He does this to help us become more Christlike...
to guide us away from our carnal attitudes and the fleshly habits we possess.
The unique thing about the Holy Spirit is that He is singlehandedly capable. He is perfectly able to let us know wherein we fail to measure up to the purpose and plan of God. The blessed thing about the Holy Spirit is that He fulfills this mission with grace and gentleness.
Not always so with critics.
When we criticize from a heart filled with indignation, no matter how righteous it is, or how well-intended we are, the critique has a way of missing the point and often falls short of the critic's goal. I trust this is because we all are flawed. We each have an edge of carnality within us that is hard to mask when we tell another what we think is wrong with them or what we see is needed for their correction and growth.
I am a coward myself. I have great difficulty telling another what I think is wrong with them, personally-- that is, a friend or family member. It's not as difficult for me to voice my opinion or rattle on about a particular issue and critique a stranger. I believe that is because I am so involved with a friend and a family member. I know their hurts and I know their past and so I tend to hold my tongue for fear of hurting the relationship. I figure that the Lord is pretty good at fixing that which is flawed in another's life so even though I think I may know best what they need, or if I discern what might help them, unless I am asked for advice or opinion, I tend to keep my own counsel and do a lot of praying about it. [After all, I'm not perfect either.]
If it is something that is affecting me, I seek counsel from others wiser and more mature than myself. Sometimes I share my quandary with another friend-- that is not always a good thing to do. They may not be objective-- especially if they are just as vulnerable as I am, or just as concerned for my well-being as I am. They may not be as clear-minded as needed.
I've shared my quandaries with lots of friends. I've shared them here in this forum. I've shared them in my church groups. I've gotten a lot of input from a lot of areas because of it. Anytime we open up and share our thoughts we are vulnerable to the critique of others-- the advice, and the exhortations.
Ultimately, though, I rest my case in the hands of God. For He is faithful to guide me, check me, test me and lead me in the path I must take. He knows my heart. He knows my motives. He does not need to read between the lines to discern my weaknesses. He, being God, creates in me a clean heart and cleanses me from all unrighteousness. Unlike critics, He remembers it no more. And that, my friends, is a good thing. selahV