Sunday Morning Sunday School for November 2nd, 2014.

Criticism.

Is it a good thing?

Criticism, as defined in the dictionary, is the art of analyzing and evaluating the quality of one’s “work”.  It is the act of passing judgment as to the merits of the “work”.

Is it ever useful or fitting to judge something in an unflattering way?  Is it ever useful or fitting to artfully analyze or evaluate a performance, a writing, or any piece of “work”?

What does the Bible say about criticism?

First of all, Matthew 7:1 says:

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

If I point out the faults in my brother, then my brother may find the same faults in me and I must be wary of that.  There is a fine line between the act of “judging” and the art of “criticizing”.

Judging someone only points fingers without offering solutions.  Constructive criticism “polishes” that lump of coal and, eventually, if worked hard enough, shines it to the luster of a diamond.  If I am constructively criticized, in truth and helpfulness, I become a better person.

Proverbs 27:6 says:

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

This means we can learn more from a friend who, in earnest, tells us the harsh truth than we can learn from an enemy who tells us what we want to hear.  The friend’s chastising can be helpful while the enemy’s encouragement is hurtful.

Ephesians 4:15 says:

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.

Perhaps the New International Version of the Bible makes this verse easier to understand.

In the NIV Ephesians 4:15 translates:

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 4:14 tells us WHY we should speak truthfully and within a foundation of love:

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.

So, we learn, there is a difference between “judgement” and “criticism”.  But beyond that, there is also a division in “criticism”.  When defining our criticism we must ask ourselves, do we analyze and evaluate the faults we see in someone’s work because we want to destroy that work or because we want to make that work stronger? Are we judging them or are we trying to help them?  Good criticism, based on truth and coming from the heart, is humble and hopes only for a measure of success to be gained from it’s constructive guidance.

Many times criticism is taken as being snooty, snobbish, egotistical, and even cold-hearted but this is sometimes just an excuse for ignoring it’s value.  It is seen by those who refuse to accept it and to learn from it as being judgmental and, therefore, it is easily discarded.

Proverbs 18:13 says:

He that answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame unto him.

The Bible says that healthy criticism MUST BE based on truth.  Negligent criticism is only gossip and usually ends up embarrassing the critic.

There is a VERY BIG difference between criticizing someone to help them versus having a “critical spirit” that is NEVER satisfied.

Galatians 5:22 says:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, and faith.

Criticism should always be grounded in the truth.  Criticism should always provide a door for the object of it’s critique to pass through to become better.

Praise the Lord.

The Bible, the word of God, is our handbook to salvation.  It is the peace that passes all understanding.  Thank you for sharing it with PNN today.

RLB4

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