Remember, brothers -- all of you, conservative or liberal, young or old, MacArthur fan or Miller fan -- a prophet speaks from the inside. Let us not shrink back from calling each other to repentance, to speaking the truth in love, but let's remember we speak prophetically to us, not them.
And let us not shrink back from our brother's reproof if it is offered in sincerity. He may be wrong, he may be overzealous, but his energy merits consideration.
It is not "stoning" to biblically criticize another, as one blogger said of another's efforts recently. What a silly charge that makes the receiver appear an oversensitive child and belittles the gravity of, you know, actually being killed by having rocks thrown on you. If a blog post critical of you is akin to stoning in your eyes, you need help with perspective.
Judgment of one's speech and actions is not condemnation. Test all things; cling to what is good. If the criticism is truly malicious or just wrong: dismiss it. But not before then. And certainly not with some self-glorifying notion that one is above the reproof of fellow Christians. Don't think strangers have the right to criticize you? Then don't post thoughts in public for strangers to read. It is no Christian virtue to expect privileges without responsibilities.
"We often think we have no need of anyone else's advice or reproof. Always remember, much grace does not imply much enlightenment. We may be wise but have little love, or we may have love with little wisdom. God has wisely joined us all together as the parts of a body so that we cannot say to another, 'I have no need of you.' "We critics ought to seek to read others through the lens of charity. Many times the ability to read someone's words in a bad light does not equal an imperative to do so. Instead of first asking our brother why they said or believe something so stupid, let's ask ourselves if perhaps we're reading him incorrectly or uncharitably.
- John Wesley
We receivers of criticism ought to lend our critics the respect they may be denying us. Respond to questions or criticism in good faith, even if briefly. If our interlocutors prove malicious or disputationally vain, we can then move along. Yes, yes, by all means, don't feed the trolls. But seeking to clarify, elaborate, or winsomely rebut seems a decent way to rhetorically give your shirt to the guy asking for your coat.
But let's honor Christ by attempting to bear with one another. The gospel has identified the problem, and it is us.
"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."
-- Romans 12:10b