How to Criticize Christians

gavelThe title alone might scare some of you, but constructive criticism, (a spoken or written opinion or judgment), is a part of healthy relationship. The bible lets us know that iron sharpens iron and one brother sharpens another and that wisdom is found in the counsel of many advisors. Certainly if we are wise, we surround ourselves with those who are free and encouraged to tell us the truth in spite of our immediate feelings.

There are a growing number of ministries, blogs and sites that seek to separate the truth of the word of God from the error of rampant false teaching. At first glance, this sounds wonderful. I’m ready to chant, “Sound the alarm!” But wait. I have to ask the question, is there a biblical way to go about this?

Yes, there is! Turns out Jesus dealt with the issue directly in

Matthew 7:1 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults – unless, of course, you want the same treatment. 2 That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. 3 It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. 4 Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? 5 It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor. 6 “Don’t be flip with the sacred. Banter and silliness give no honor to God. Don’t reduce holy mysteries to slogans. In trying to be relevant, you’re only being cute and inviting sacrilege.

I see at least four principles that ought to be followed when we have to judge a person’s action, ministry, minister’s action, doctrine or practice. I’ll use the word ‘mote’ to try and make this memorable.

M – Motive is everything! We should never criticize just as an exercise in fault-finding or in an attempt to prove moral superiority. Such behavior is frivolous.

O Objectivity is essential! When evaluating a situation, a person, or practice, it’s important to ensure we are free of bias, hurts and personal struggles that may cause our judgment to be one-sided and hateful.

T – Truth, that’s all! It’s often hard to do, but telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth is the standard that we must hold ourselves to. It’s unfair and ungodly to only tell the part of the story that helps your assertion.

E – Evaluate the need and the redemptive results! Don’t cast your pearl before swine. If a person is clearly hard-hearted or decidedly unbiblical, evaluate the need for your criticism. Be careful not to judge the person, stick to the practice. Belittlement is never necessary. Always work towards the redemption of people, not the embracement or exclusion of others.

So judge my thoughts. What do you think? How does it make you feel when you are criticized based on assumption and misinformation?


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