Some of us seem gifted in pointing out the flaws, failures, and problems we see in others. In an eyeblink, we can spot the speck in our brother’s eye. If you don’t know of any faults, simply ask us and we will be glad to inform you of many you may have overlooked.
I wondered what the Bible had to say about the gift of criticism. Since I tend to so often excel in it, I figured it must be God-given and therefore easily confirmed through the Word of God. I opened my computer program and began to search for the word criticism in my ESV Bible.
What I found was “no entry.” However, the program did refer me to this Scripture:
Ephesians 4:29 – Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Nobody likes a smart aleck Bible program! Not deterred, I entered the word “critical,” to see what would appear. Again, “no entry.” Also, again, the program added a free verse for my consideration:
Proverbs 15:31 – The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.
Seems like my program has a problem with me and my attitude! Sure, it’s okay to be given life-given reproof, but not okay to be critical.
Still, not ready to give up, I decided to check out the dictionary regarding terms.
Criticism – the expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.
Critical – expressing adverse or disapproving comments or judgments.
That defines what I am guilty of but provides little justification for my behavior. Most of us know we should not base anything on “perceived faults,” and “express judgments,” though that rarely stops me.
As I was getting nowhere with this search, I decided to change my tactics. I started entering words like “gifts and fruit,” hoping to find something along the lines of criticism of others. Instead, these came up:
Corinthians 12:1 (a) Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed.
Galatians 5:22-23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
I am beginning to get the picture. God does not want me to be ignorant, uninformed regarding His will, gifts, and fruit. However, He also will not allow me to blame Him for my flesh. If I read all of these verses again conviction should settle in regarding how I speak to and about others.
Words that are building up others, gives grace to those that listen, and are not based on perceived faults or based on judgment are approved, whereas criticism and being critical are not even in the Book of all Books.
If I listen to what I say to and about others, my words should resemble the list Paul presents as evidence of the Spirit’s presence in my life. Maybe there really is no gift of criticism and I need to repent of how I speak. Maybe I am not alone in this process, but who am I to judge.