Do you have a tendency to criticize others? Have you ever frowned on a different approach some co-worker selected to meet a challenge, even though they were successful? Or, are you guilty of rolling your eyes at a stranger’s disheveled appearance? Criticism is the act of judging unfavorably or faultfinding. There is always more to a story and we are often clueless to all the whys behind a situation.

A true friend will speak the truth, even when it is hard to hear. But a friend’s truth is offered in love. It comes from a humble and caring heart. It is never insulting, condescending, or bitter.

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
Proverbs 27:6 (NIV)

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15 (NIV)

“But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” Galatians 5:15 (NKJV)

Godly criticism is truthful and loving. Jesus was critical of the Pharisees’ hypocrisy, and He expressed His disapproval on several occasions (Matthew 23). However, Jesus’ criticisms were always truthful and, ultimately, loving.

“And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.” 2 Timothy 2:24-25 (NKJV)

There is a difference between a desire to help someone improve and having a critical spirit. Someone with a critical spirit is never pleased and expects disappointment or failure. They judge in pride and arrogance. They lack patience, kindness, and gentleness. To be clear, having a critical spirit is the opposite of 1 Corinthians 13.

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV)

There are many scriptures that warn believers to walk in the way of love and refrain from judging others.

“Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” James 4:11-12 (NKJV)
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’, and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First, remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:1-5 (NKJV)

We are advised to speak kindly to one another and to consider our words before they are uttered. When we take note of our faces, we will acknowledge we have two eyes for observing, two ears for listening, but a single mouth for speech.

“But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” Galatians 5:15 (NKJV)

“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.”
Proverbs 21:23 (NKJV)

“ But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.” Matthew 12:36 (NKJV)

“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.” Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)

I encourage you to reflect on the conversations you have had this week. Were your words edifying, or did they tear down and wound? Are you guilty of looking for reasons to complain, or are you full of peace and hope for those in your life? Do you always have to be right or the person who wins every argument? Ask yourself if you have been playing judge. A judge hears both sides of a story and wants the best for all concerned.

We may want to see changes in the people we love. Maybe they are making poor decisions or rebelling against God. Strive to recognize what God is accomplishing in their lives and thank Him. Nothing is too hard for Him. However, He does not march to the beat of our drum. His timing is perfect. Furthermore, it may be that God wants us to change. We might need an attitude adjustment. Being positive means trusting God with our worries and believing that because He is all knowing, “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

Practice seeing people and things with a “glass half full” attitude. You will discover that more joy and peace floods into your life.

“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”
Romans 14:4 (NKJV)

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