If you need to know the negatives on a subject give me a call, I’m an expert critical thinker, well criticizer really, yeah, I’m good at that. I can find fault in almost anything or anyone. It’s easy really, I just look at all the things that I wouldn’t do and don’t like and think about them, and after just a second (I’m really fast!) it’s like almost every word that falls out of my mouth is critical gold. It’s that easy! Yeah, I know, it’s a gift.
I can’t take all the credit though, it just comes natural to me. Though there was a time when I took that nature and perfected it. I mean I honed my craft. I studied. I practiced. I did my best to seek out all the bad in the world and to criticize it. I found friends who had the same good sense as me, and got their amens as I pontificated on the pointless. It was exciting to be so enlightened that I could criticize without breaking a sweat.
But then one day I read these dreadful words in Romans 2:1-2, “Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things.”
I scratched my brain and tried to see the truth in the notion that I practiced the same thing that I desperately loved to judge. I knew that wasn’t true, I would never! I do not practice my selfishness the same way they do! I do it a totally different way.
Wait a minute, so it’s just the manifestation of my selfishness that is different from everyone else’s. In effect when I criticize you, I’m just criticizing your kind of selfishness while considering my kind the best. What?!
Yes, I guess when you get down to it, at the root of all the wrong done by the world is that one terrible impulse of selfishness, that very thing that is the exact opposite of the one thing God wants us all to do, and that is to love. To love God with every ounce of our being and to love others as ourselves. Selfishness leads us to ignore God’s Word, to hurt others, to over indulge, to be lazy, to steal, to kill, to fight, to manipulate, it all comes down to the opposite of love. And that is exactly what my criticism is, the opposite of love, for love is patient and kind, it’s not all envious or boasting. It isn’t arrogant or rude. It doesn’t insist on its own way, prefer its own selfishness. It isn’t irritable or resentful because their selfishness is a different kind of selfishness. It doesn’t laugh when others get it wrong but is happy with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
I guess when you think about it like that, it’s kind of like agreeing with Oswald Chambers who says, “in the spiritual domain nothing is accomplished by criticism.” Drat! And I thought I was saving the world by being so discerning, and pointing out the errors of their ways. I thought I had a responsibility to be the watchdog, the corrector, the great critic.
You know, sometimes growing in grace ruins all my fun.
Okay, so I take it back, if you want something criticized don’t come to me, because I’m done spinning my spiritual wheels and digging the ruts that just keep me stuck in my old ways. Grace is the word. We are all selfish, we all see the world through our own filter rather than through the eyes of God. We all are on the journey of discovery, discovering the love of God and finding that it’s more tantalizing than the worst thing in the world. Finding that it is far better to spread the good news of grace than the critical news of condemnation and attack.
Will you join me today in choosing grace over criticism? In letting God do the judging, and instead taking up the mantle of love? Don’t worry, if you won’t, I won’t criticize, you’re safe with me.