If you know me I can be very critical at times. Just recently I had to learn this valuable lesson, criticism given in the wrong way can make us feel anxious and in some cases, worthless. But when it’s given fairly and constructively, with real care and encouragement, not only does it show us where we’re going wrong, it fires us up to want to improve. So when we’re trying to help someone improve, let’s do it with kindness, understanding and empathy.
If it’s constructive, criticism can be a good thing. If we point out mistakes from a position of love and of wanting the other person to be the best they can be, it’s a useful tool that we can use to help others improve. Otherwise, it can easily turn into a destructive force that discourages and breaks people apart. We tend to find it easy to point out failings and weaknesses in others, while overlooking or excusing our own faults.
Jesus says: ‘How can you say to your friend, “Let me take that little piece of dust out of your eye”? Look at yourself! You still have that big piece of wood in your own eye. You hypocrite!’ (Matthew 7:4-5 NCV). Strong words, so we definitely need to take notice and avoid being unfair and judging others more harshly than we judge ourselves. Sometimes we might be overly critical to try and make ourselves look or feel better. Or we might be trying to hide the wounds of past experiences by using anger and criticism as a form of defence.
Today, whatever the reason, Jesus gives us clear instructions, ‘Do not judge, or you too will be judged.’ When God looks at us and sees our faults and all the mistakes we make, He treats us with grace and gently corrects us. But what if God criticised us as harshly and as often as we criticise others? We’d soon feel completely depressed and wounded. The truth is, God, who has the highest standards of all, treats us with love and care even when we fail to live up to those standards. So when we need to correct someone, let’s do the same, and aim to encourage, not discourage.
Do not judge, or you too will be judged.’ MATTHEW 7:1 NIV
Yahweh, I thank You for this timely advice not to judge others. I surrender my negative critical mind to You. Please Father, change me so I won’t be judgemental and hypocritical. God, help me to look at myself first before looking at others. Show me how to be constructive and encouraging when I have to criticise, and never to be discouraging and cause depression and discontent, in Christ’s Name! Amen.