Know what? It’s really easy to be critical. Why that’s so is a mystery to me. It seems like people would enjoy talking about good stuff, concentrating on nice things, searching for the good things to talk about – but they don’t! If something new comes along, or something different, or someone says a word out of place, some people just can’t wait to have at it. They can’t seem to wait to be offended or to become angry.
Even Jesus, who was the finest man who ever lived, sinless before God, and caring and compassionate toward others even to the point of laying His life down for them, suffered from the vicious tongues of His critics:
- He was called a glutton and a winebibber (a drunk);
- He was accused of casting out demons by the power of the prince of demons;
- He was called a sinner and Beelzebub (the prince of the devils);
- He was accused of being demon possessed Himself;
- He was called the worst thing imaginable – a “Samaritan”;
- He was charged of profaning the Sabbath;
- He was accused of being a deceiver and a blasphemer.
Nothing appears to be safe from criticism’s damning influence. Those who attacked the Lord were those rejecting Him and bent on destroying Him. A short while later, after the church had been established, critics popped up there, too, spreading their venom throughout the newly planted churches. One of the reasons Paul wrote 2 Corinthians was to answer the criticism being leveled against him by some in the Corinthian church:
- They accused him of being a coward, strong with written words when he was gone but backing down and using weak words when he was with them;
- They said he was not eloquent – a lousy preacher;
- They called him a schemer and accused him of being stingy;
- They said he was unstable, always changing his plans;
- They claimed he was not a real apostle like Peter or John.
Isn’t it sad (it’s sad when anyone does it) when Christians fall into the ugly habit of criticizing. Let’s don’t let that happen here – instead let’s make Ephesians 4.29 our constant companion: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Psychologists tell us when our own self-esteem is low, we tend to blame others for our problems. On the other hand, when one is secure in Christ, there is less criticism of others. Our criticism is frequently a projection of our own dissatisfaction with ourselves; hence, the one criticizing is often saying more about himself than the other person.
Here’s a short list to help us beat the criticism habit:
- Don’t expect perfection out of people. We all make mistakes. (It’s just that mine aren’t as bad as yours.) No one is perfect! We need to learn and practice a little patience and forbearance. “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other…” (Colossians 3.12-13).
- Don’t use a double standard like – my little vices, inconsistencies, and mistakes are okay – but yours aren’t so little, you need to shape up. Jesus cautioned us: “And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7.3).
- Extra care should be directed toward those whom we know the best and love the most. It’s unthinkable for a husband to be considerate of those he works with but harsh and impatient with his wife. And it’s certainly not right for a wife to be the nicest lady in the neighborhood and a nag at home. Again, the Lord teaches: “And just as you want people to treat you, treat them in the same way” (Luke 6.31).
Someone said, “Only God can form and paint a flower – but any child can pull it to pieces.” That’s the ugly work of thoughtless criticism – let’s just don’t do it!
By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13.35