Criticism steals joy
Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone. – John 8:7
1 Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.
2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
3 And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?
4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?
5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain and most fools do” (Benjamin Franklin).
“Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving” (Dale Carnegie).
“Criticism is an indirect form of self-boasting” (Emmet Fox).
“Criticism is the disapproval of people, not for having faults, but having faults different from your own” (Unknown).
“When we judge or criticize another person, it says nothing about that person; it merely says something about our own need to be critical” (Unknown).
“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help” (Abraham Lincoln).
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.
So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat” (Theodore Roosevelt).
The Lord Jesus Christ is described as a carpenter and the son of a carpenter (Mark 6:3, Matthew 13:55). As a carpenter, he would have a great deal of experience with wood dust and chips. Carpentry work creates a lot of dust and chips. Perhaps He drew on His own hands-on experience with wood chips and beams.
He uses hyperbole to make His point. No one can actually get a large wooden beam in their own eye and function. He asks a rhetorical question that is intentionally probing.
How can someone be able to remove a tiny wood chip from another’s eye when their vision is blurred by a huge beam in their own eye? He answers His own question. It is necessary to first remove the beam in your own eye, in order to see clearly and take the speck out of another’s eye. His listeners got His point.
For would-be stone-throwers, absence of guilt is required to be qualified to throw stones. The story is told of a delightful Jewish mother who upon hearing criticism, quipped, “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” Upon a careful self-examination, would we qualify as qualified judges of others?
The Lord Jesus Christ provides a short course in judging and not judging. His lesson is timeless. It includes three major guidelines.
- If you do not want to be judged by others, do not judge others.
- If you judge others, the standard that you used will be the same standard by which you are judged.
- Any impediments that would prevent clear and insightful judgment, must be removed before judging others.
When He said we are not to judge others, He did not mean we were simply supposed to take everything at face value and accept it uncritically.
When we attempt to judge others, we are usurping the role that ultimately belongs to the Father alone. He is the ultimate judge. He has assigned all judgment to His son the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:22).
Did you ever think that when you criticize other people, you are usurping the Father’s prerogative? To judge you need to be able to see and understand accurately. If something impairs your vision or discernment it must be removed before the judgment can proceed.
The Lord Jesus Christ commanded the children of the King to judge and explained how to do it correctly.
John 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.
The Lord Jesus Christ was well aware that most criticism and judgment are hypocritical. He knows what is in the heart of everyone (John 2:24-25). It is necessary to look beyond outward appearances to judge correctly. One who judges rightly goes beneath the surface. They examine not merely outward actions but also inner thoughts, intentions, and motivations. Those who judge should be objective, not burdened by a guilty conscience or hidden agendas.
REFLECT & PRAY
Over and over it seems that criticism and its counterpart thin-skinned sensitivity, rob us of our joy and tranquility.
Father I want to be gentle and kind as I interact with others. Help me to see my own faults, and deal with them, before criticizing others.
Philippians 2:14 Do everything without complaining and arguing.
It is so easy to be critical, harsh, and judgmental. We overlook the fact that a critical spirit steals our joy. When we find fault with others, criticize others, too often we fail to recognize that we are seeing variations of our own shortcomings. In psychology, this is called projection.
Proverbs 26:21 A contentious person kindles strife.
In the Father’s kingdom, there is absolute beauty, purity, and righteousness. Sadly, it is not so in our present world. Rather our human experience is marked by a critical spirit, cruel brutishness, and endlessly laborious, futile tasks.
In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was infamous for his self-aggrandizing trickiness and deceitfulness. He was punished by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill daily. When the boulder neared the top, it would roll back down. Sisyphus had to repeat this action for all eternity. Thus, his efforts were endless and futile.
Unless criticism and judgment of others are done righteously by forgiven and forgiving people, it is probably just as endless and futile.
Taking criticism personally tears us apart. Handing it out is no great honor either. Is it possible to judge dispassionately and righteously to generate a beneficial outcome?
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
Nehemiah 8:10 Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!”
“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots him” (Frank A. Clark).