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Bible Topics: Criticism
Definition: The act of examining or judging the value or merits of something; judging with severity; fault finding.
1. There's a big difference between constructive criticism and being critical.
- Proverbs 10:11 The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked.
- Proverbs 11:9a An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour.
- Proverbs 12:18 There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.
- Proverbs 15:4 A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit.
- Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
- John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
- Jeremiah 1:9-10 [Although Jeremiah's iconoclastic message was very harsh and critical of the disobedient Kingdom of Judah, the ultimate purpose was to clear away the evil so that it could be replaced with the good.] Then the Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put My Words in thy mouth. 10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.
2. When tempted to criticise others, first consider your own faults.
- Psalm 130:3 If Thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
- Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
- John 8:7 So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
- Romans 14:10 But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
- Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
3. A critical spirit is born of self-righteousness.
- Matthew 23:24,28 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
- Luke 13:13-15 [The spiritually proud pharisees, blinded by self-righteousness, criticized Jesus even for doing good.] And He laid His hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. 14 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day. 15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?
- Romans 2:1,3 [Beware of the double standard!] Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
- James 4:11,12 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. 12 There is one lawgiver, Who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
- 3 John 1:9,10 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
4. Criticalness sows strife, disunity and discord amongst brethren.
- Proverbs 6:16,19 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him. ... 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. [See also verse 14.]
- Proverbs 16:28 A froward [perverse] man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.
- Proverbs 22:10 Cast out the scorner, and contention shall go out; yea, strife and reproach shall cease.
5. Criticalness views things carnally and is more likely to be wrong than right.
- 1 Samuel 16:7b The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. [See also Isaiah 55:8,9.]
- Isaiah 11:3,4 And shall make Him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of His ears: 4 But with righteousness shall He judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall He slay the wicked.
- John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
- John 8:15,16 [Even Jesus only judged with God's help and understanding.] Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. 16 And yet if I judge, My judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent Me.
6. Fault-finders lose friendships, as well as favor with God.
- Proverbs 17:9 He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.
- 1 Timothy 6:4,5b [Paul exhorts the brethren to avoid fellowshipping with faultfinders.] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings [suspicions], 5b From such withdraw thyself.
- James 2:13 [If we unmercifully criticize others, we forfeit God's mercy on ourselves!] For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. [See also Matthew 6:14,15; Luke 6:37.]
7. We should "watch and pray," not watch and criticise.
- Isaiah 29:20,21 For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: 21 That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate [the defendant in court], and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.
- Romans 15:30 Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me.
- Ephesians 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.
- 1 Thessalonians 1:2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers.
- James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed [spiritually as well as physically]. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
8. Before voicing criticism, put yourself in the other person's shoes.
- Matthew 7:12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
- Romans 14:4 [Watch out about being judgemental. You may not know the whole story.] Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
- Romans 14:13 Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.
9. Those with a tendency to criticise need to learn to hold their tongues.
- Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.
- Proverbs 29:11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.
- Ecclesiastes 5:2,6a Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in Heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. 6a Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin.
- Acts 19:36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:8-11 [Criticizing others can lead to criticizing God!] He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, Who hath also given unto us His holy Spirit. 9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you.
- James 1:19,20 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
10. God's blessings are upon those who don't fall into being critical or negative.
- Psalm 15:1,3 Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? 3 He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.
- Psalm 34:12-14 What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? 13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. 14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
- 1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
11. Jesus came not to criticize others, but to save them.
- John 3:17 For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.
- John 8:10-11 [Jesus did not criticize the adulteress as would have the critical Pharisees:] When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
- Mark 9:38-40 [Jesus encouraged His disciples to be less critical and more inclusive:] And John answered Him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy Name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 9 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My Name, that can lightly speak evil of Me. 40 For he that is not against us is on our part.
- Luke 9:54-55 [Jesus was not pleased when His over-zealous disciples condemned some unreceptive Samaritans:] And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from Heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? 55 But He turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
12. The "cure" for a critical spirit is to learn to walk in love.
- 1 Corinthians 16:14 Let all your things be done with charity [love].
- Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.
- 1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.
- 1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
13. Constructive criticism, a form of wise judgment, can help to uphold the standard.
- Exodus 18:21,22 [The judges of old were appointed to offer constructive criticism and judgment.] Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens: 22 And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.
- Leviticus 19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.
- Deuteronomy 1:16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.
- 1 Kings 3:9 Give therefore Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this Thy so great a people?
- 2 Chronicles 19:6b Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, Who is with you in the judgment.
- 1 Corinthians 6:2,3 [If we're going to eventually judge angels in the next life, shouldn't we be able to prayerfully offer constructive judgment or criticism now?] Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?
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