“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” ~Ephesians 4:29
A constant critic brings down those they criticize. We must try to lift up and edify others rather than putting down and discouraging them. Perhaps we criticize because we are lacking in important areas like communication, patience and compassion?
Remember that nothing is ever gained through criticism. We would be far better off advising others through words of encouragement rather than insults. Try to talk up rather than talking down others when you disagree.
Frustrated with someone? Might want to take a look at yourself, you just might find a flaw within. What are your motives? Might be that you are putting others down in order to build yourself up?
We have to make a choice to use our tongue for good to encourage, uplift, and edify others rather than for evil to discourage, insult and lie. We have to decide if we are more interested in building ourselves up by putting others down . . . or using our voice to encourage and uplift. What is our objective, is it to feed our ego and pride or to glorify God? Pride leads us to brag, and humility leads us to accept that we really aren't all that, we're just as much a sinner as the other guy, and are all in need of an all forgiving God.
Are we praising God or are we praising ourselves? To speak ill of others is an underhanded way of praising ourselves. Whether we want to admit it or not we are all guilty of this self-promoting behavior!
While I was driving home from Bible study one night, I heard the tail end of a sermon from a minister I really like. He was preaching about the power of our tongue, and how we can use it for good or for evil. Then, when I got home, I saw a most inspiring image (below) regarding the very same subject. Coincidence? I think not! The Spirit of God is always trying to guide us into the truths we need in order to get the lesson He wants us to see.
“However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you.” ~John 16:13-14
The above verse came to my attention the very next morning. As I read this verse I discovered that we have this incredible power; the Holy Spirit of the living God, He’s there to help and guide us, to teach us all truth, to show us everything we need to know. And in this case, the truth I needed was about controlling my own tongue.
You see, I had recently been wronged by someone and chose to gossip and put them down to a friend instead of just praying for them. I was all to quick to use their misdeed as a platform to build myself up, rather than just resisting the temptation to blab to my friend.
Much like myself, we all too often ignore God's promptings, usually due to pride, thinking we are already perfect . . . and that, my friends, is when we find ourselves on that very dangerous, slippery slope called pride.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.” ~Proverbs 16:18-19
I clearly failed this test. I was blinded by my pride and didn’t see all the signs God was sending me to keep me from messing up. I prayed and asked for forgiveness the moment I realized what I had done. I know that I am forgiven. I also know that it would be much easier for me and would make God much happier if I would just listen to Him, do it right, and not have to constantly apologize for doing it wrong, plus . . . I wouldn’t have to keep eating my own words!
“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.” ~Proverbs 16:24
I now understand that this is one of the biggest ways God teaches us important lessons. He allows us to stubbornly continue to mess up so that we can clearly see the lesson when we look back. He slowly takes us on this journey into knowledge, and continually leads with His staff into all truth. He never forces us to take the fast track, He allows us to do it our way so that we learn, first hand, the unpleasant results of doing it wrong. Eating my own words is really starting to get old!
We are all a work in progress, and I’m the leader of the pack when it comes to speaking without thinking. It certainly is good to know that God never leaves us no matter where we are on our faith walk. He never gives up on us, and is always willing to forgive and help us on our way to becoming more like Him. Thank God we have the loving forgiveness of Jesus!
“Even though I was thought the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” ~Psalm 23:4 NIV
Q: Is criticism helpful or harmful?
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