"If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless." James 1:26
What does criticism mean? To express grief, pain, or discontent.
To make a formal accusation or charge.
To find fault with; point out the faults of.
How many of us can remember a cutting remark from childhood? "Look how silly her pants are!" "She has buck teeth!" "I don't like girls with glasses!" "Her house has K-Mart furniture!" "I can't play with you because you don't have a nice home."
Now, these remarks above are all blatant remarks from one child to another and are intended to hurt and injure the recipient's heart and soul.
But what about remarks spoken by adults and to adults that are equally as damaging? "Nice house, Mary, but I would've chosen one with a wraparound porch." "Sure it's a nice car, Tom, but I would've chosen one with leather interior instead."
One of the root causes of "criticism gone bad" is jealousy. "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones." When one of your friends gets something new - say, a new home or even a new car - instead of being excited with your friend, you are jealous and so you make a "dig" at your friend's new purchase, as illustrated above. The Bible says to "rejoice with those who rejoice." Romans 12:15. Are you able to rejoice when your friends receive good things in their life that you don't have? Jealousy is one root of criticism that can cause hurt.
Another root cause of criticism gone bad is negativity. "...out of the overflow of his heart, his mouth speaks." Luke 6:45. An example could be this scenario: You come home from working all day to find your teenage daughter cooking a meal of pancakes and eggs for the family for dinner. But you also notice that she hasn't done that load of laundry you specifically asked her to do when you left for work in the morning. Do you yell at her: "Why didn't you get that load of laundry done like I asked? I work hard all day long and I expect to come home and have a clean load of laundry!" Or...do you respond this way: "Looks and smells delicious! Thanks for thinking of me and the family and taking initiative to cook this meal for dinner. But after dinner, while I do the dishes, I'd like you to start that load of laundry that's still sitting in that basket, okay?"
The Bible says "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." Philippians 4:8 The point here is to be a cheerleader (encouraging) rather than a demolition crew (destructive) with your words.
The third cause of criticism is sarcasm and/or cynicism. Sarcasm is a cutting remark that wounds. Cynicism is an attitude of jaded negativity. For example, your husband took some initiative to do a load of laundry without you having to ask, but instead of being thankful, you make a sarcastic remark: "I think pigs must be flying in the sky right about now! I never thought I'd live to see the day when you did a load of laundry without me having to command you to do a load."
"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up others according to their needs." Ephesians 4:29.
Just as the furnaces in our homes need a filter to filter out the dust and dirt, so our mouths need a filter, as well.
I would encourage you today to find a trusted friend or spouse who can help you stop your destructive comments. Maybe your spouse can give you the "time-out" symbol in sports when you begin to speak jealously, or negatively, or with sarcasm/cyicism. Perhaps your coworker can "signal" you when you begin to use these root causes of criticism in your workplace.
Questions and Answers to Share with your KoTH Partner:
- Share with your KoTH partner how critical words have hurt you personally. How has this wound healed?
- Who do you most often criticize?
- Very honestly, where does jealousy raise its ugly head in your life?
- Why are Christians so good at sarcasm and cynicism, do you believe?
- If you are a negative person, what are the roots of that negativity?
- Who in your life/world needs encouragement right now?