To Be or Not to Be Critical

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.  Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.  So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

  • Romans 2:1-4

“… Because you’re not happy with yourself, you are not happy with others.

“Some of us feel duty-bound to point out to other people their imperfections.  Then we expect them to be grateful for it, as if they’ll say, ‘Oh thank you!  I was waiting for you to tell me about that flaw today!’  Even worse, we point out someone’s imperfections to other people, falling into the trap of gossip and judgment.

“When we criticize someone, it has a lot more to do with our need to be critical than with imperfections or differences.  And when we are critical of another person, we are missing the beauty in them and our relationship with them.  We destroy the delicate seedling of joy that is trying to take root in their heart.  In Romans 2:1 (Msg), we read, “’Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanors.’”

  • Kay Warren, Choose Joy

I told someone a couple of years ago that I was going to write a blog.  I was unclear in the announcement regarding the subject matter.  This person had written a blog for some time.  The advice was “Do not be afraid to be super-critical.  You HAVE to be critical.”

That has bothered me ever since.  I feel guilty when I am critical.  Yes, I fall into that trap, but I feel terrible afterward.  I have a wonderful friend who writes a monthly devotion.  He thought that he had stretched beyond his target audience with one future devotion, and he wanted me to review it.  I thought it was excellent, and I told him that he should write more bold devotions like it.  Then, I ruined my review by pointing out a single typo, saying that I was sure he would catch it upon another review himself, and he referenced a book quote that confused where the quote originated.  I said that the reference for the quote did not need to be changed as the distribution was within the church, no money being made, no publication considerations.  The guilt came when he thanked me for the kind words and reassured me that he made both corrections.  I realized that I had become what I disliked.

I have read so many book reviews, movie reviews, etc. that start off “I simply loved ‘___,’ but here are the 100 things that are wrong with it.”  There is never any evidence given that the thing being reviewed had any reason to be loved, just a simple statement followed by ‘but.’

Kay Warren starts a section of Chapter 8, Nurturing Joy in Others, with the quote above.  This is in part 3 of the book on Cultivating a Soul-Response that Allows Joy to Deepen.  That’s the point.  Our Joy is robbed because we were critical of others.  Their Joy is robbed because they are ‘liked, but…’ 

I have heard that critics are critics because they can’t…  That is being critical, but for a critic to be critical, they must find fault.

I worked for only nine months as an auditor of training programs.  I had a fancy title, but I audited and wrote reports.  My overseers, federal civil servants, were far from civil.  They demanded that I break federal regulations and write a highly subjective report on how horrible the contractor’s training was and how incompetent their employees were.  But I also had a boss that would not accept a subjective report or anything that stepped outside the regulations that bound the work that we did.  And I also listened to God.  The workers were not incompetent.  The training department followed the regulations to the letter.  Their justification documentation showed clear logical arguments that they were training on the proper information.  I would be bearing false witness to do as my overseers ordered.  I would be in violation of my boss’ directives and federal regulations.  And I would have caused a firestorm over a pack of lies.

Does anyone now understand why I only had the job for nine months?

But there are those who have no problem being critical.  Some have a lot of education and little conscience.  They must point out all the typos that they find to prove how smart they are.  Some are overconfident in their own abilities, thinking that they could do it better, “but the ‘idiot’ got the job and I didn’t.”  There may be other reasons, but in mentioning these, I am being critical of the critical critics – I must stop, and even offer an apology.

Regardless of our deep-seated issues that make us critical, we need to heed the warnings of both the Apostle Paul and Kay Warren.  You rob others of their Joy by putting them down.

In the blogging world, we all make typos.  The poetry that you read may not be at perfect meter or the rhymes may not be perfect.  So?  Neither should I be criticized by reading this post ten times, having my wife read it, and second-guessing myself.  (And my wife found a typo and laughed considering the subject matter.)

I have read some posts by others that I have applauded in spite of the sentence fragments, run-on / paragraph length sentences, typos, misspellings, etc.  Why?  The heart and soul that was poured into those words transcended the poor grammar.  Yes, the poor grammar made it hard to read, but when we read with our hearts, instead of our heads, the meaning comes through.  Sometimes it screams.  Sometimes it weeps.  Let us scream and weep with them.

Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a time when people judged someone’s character instead of their skin color.  Why not we extend that to other comparisons?  Let us dream of a time when we can click ‘like’ and have glowing positive comments based on the heart-felt message that was conveyed, instead of their editing skills.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

2 Comments

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  1. I wonder if your blogging friend meant that you have to be critical of your own writing? Perhaps he or she was advising you to re-read and re-think your posts before hitting publish. J.

    Liked by 1 person

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