Today, many people criticize numerous things, subjects, people, and places. There is much hatred and anger in the world which is visible every day in some way. Drivers tailgating and speeding twenty over the limit or more. Can’t have anyone in front of me! When standing longer than two minutes in a check-out line, one can hear criticisms about the cashier; terribly slow and incompetent, the cashier ought to be fired. Why doesn’t this place hire more help so that I’m not standing here waiting?
Criticism hurts and is difficult to take when on the receiving end. And for some reason it does not provide relief to the one criticizing. It seems to stir more anger. Often the one being criticized also becomes angry and retaliates. And there we have it folks, ring-side seats to a fight!
Some people realize afterwards that the criticism was uncalled for, mean hearted, and revengeful. They feel badly about it and may seek forgiveness from the person they offended. Forgiveness might be given and received but yet the painful aftereffects linger.
Why all this hatred and anger? Often it is the symptoms of the “me factor”. I want this now! I was here first! I’m smarter than you! I can do that better than you! Listen to me! Look at me!
We might brush this off as human nature and so it is – our fallen sinful nature. So then, how should we react to criticism? Is criticism excusable in some situations? Listen to what James said; “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:19-20) “Brothers, do not slander one another...” (James 4:11) And Proverbs 15:1 tells us, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
In Galatians we are told how to approach someone who has been caught in sin. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1). If we criticize or judge, we better do it gently, for who knows, we might commit the same sin if found in the same situation as the one who has fallen. You may have heard the sayings, “Praying hands bring better results than pointing fingers.” And “When you point a finger at someone, there are three more fingers pointing back at you.”
And Ephesians 4:20 has wise words to live by; “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Another saying is, “It is better to give others a piece of your heart than a piece of your mind.”
Yes, sometimes we do criticize and sometimes we are criticized. But the wonderful news is that God is loving and gentle when we ask for forgiveness. And He heals our hurts. Some words to consider from the poem How Did You Die by Canadian poet and writer Edmund Vance Cooke (1866-1932) – poem in public domain; “Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce, Or a trouble is what you make it, And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts, But only how did you take it?” Be encouraged and encourage others!