I heard Pastor Craig Groeschel say in a recent message, “When emotions are high, wisdom is low.” How true. When we let our emotions rule the day, we are destined to say or do something we will regret. Nowhere is this more evident than in our conversations with other people. Too often we find ourselves being criticized for something or we are the ones doing the criticizing. Criticism is a cancer that should be eradicated from the life of every follower of Jesus. Our default interaction with anyone should be that of encouragement (Ephesians 4:29-32).
Humans, as a rule, love to criticize. Whether from a place of pride or as an act of defense, criticism spills from our lips easily and without warning. Scripture contains many warnings against using criticism, but we have either forgotten or perhaps choose to ignore those parts of God’s Word.
In Romans 14:10-13, Paul asks why we criticize or look down on a brother or sister in Christ. It’s a good question, and I think we all know the answer. It comes down to pride. We want to be seen as being better than another. If not in the eyes of others, we at least want to know for ourselves we are superior. It was pride that led Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. Pride caused Cain to murder Abel. And it was pride that caused an entire population of people to scoff at Noah. If Criticism is a cancer, pride is the organism that infects our cells with it.
Scripture instructs us to think of those things that are pure, honorable, true, just, lovely, and commendable (Philippians 4:8). These same subjects should be the basis of all our speech. Run what you are about to say through this filter. I’ll bet you talk a lot less! I know I would. Paul encouraged us to only say things that would build others up and to always be giving grace to those we encounter (Ephesians 4:29). This is one way we differentiate ourselves from the people of this world. In purifying our speech, we point people to Jesus.
Because criticism is a cancer, we must rid ourselves of all traces of it if we want to be healthy. We cannot thrive if we have a critical tongue or spirit. Satan knows how easy it is to evoke a critical response in us and uses it to his full advantage. Don’t give him the foothold. Don’t let Satan pollute your mind and corrupt your tongue. We can cut him off by speaking only words of encouragement and focusing our speech on things that are lovely, morally excellent, and uplifting to all.
I know this all sounds a bit old-fashioned and outdated, but it doesn’t stop it from being true. Truth is timeless and does not change. The Word of God is the same today as it was yesterday, and it will continue to be the same tomorrow. Criticism is a cancer and it’s time we allowed Jesus to put us into remission. He can heal us of our critical spirit when we allow His Holy Spirit to invade every cell of our bodies. If we will surrender our minds and mouths to Jesus, He will do His healing work. Criticism can be banished from our bodies, but we’ve got to be prepared to do the work. We’ve got to allow the change of our spirit from one of criticism to one of encouragement. We’ve got to want it. Jesus will take care of the rest.