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Criticizing others comes so naturally for us, but is it right for us to do it? Jeremy Ham, AiG–U.S., explores biblical instructions on this topic.
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)
Today’s big question: should we criticize?
You don’t have to go far in this world to see criticism at work. But because the fact that something is commonplace does not mean it is biblical. Gossip, slander, and personal attacks are all forms of criticism, and they are generally recognized as wrong. However, is there such a thing as constructive criticism? Can we use criticism to help each other do away with our bad qualities, or should we never criticize?
Today’s passage clearly states we are never to “speak evil of one another.” As Christians, we are to love our fellow believers. We should avoid all speech that is void of love and speaks evil of someone. As a result of our love, when we notice a brother or sister struggling with sin, we should lovingly give them a helping hand to get out of their sinful ways.
Moreover, Scripture reminds us that seeing only other people’s problems and not your own is hypocritical (Matthew 7:3–5). We all have sinful flesh, so we should never think that we are better than someone else. With a humble attitude, recognizing our own failures, we are to support and help each other to overcome our difficulties.
The term “constructive criticism” refers to evaluating the merits of something, which is necessary, but this devotion is focused on the criticism that seeks to denounce and find fault rather than edifying. “Constructive criticism” attempts to give solutions along with recognizing a person’s bad qualities. This sort of “criticism” or evaluation can be helpful in areas like teaching and coaching if it is used for encouragement—to help someone to become better rather than to tear them down.
However, in whatever we do, we should remember that we are not the Judge. We have no right to use our own personal opinions to judge a person. This does not mean that we cannot humbly use Scripture to point where someone is erring—let God and His Word be the judge. We must not let our own biased philosophies get in the way of letting God reveal His truth through Scripture; it is so easy to take verses out of context and attempt to point out where someone is wrong.
In conclusion, we must let God be the Judge while humbly loving the brethren. If we can accomplish this, we will never criticize because God is the only one who has the right to criticize.
Today’s big idea: God is the Judge.
What to pray: ask God to help keep you humble while standing boldly for His Word.