Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person. Colossians 4:6 (NASB)
I sometimes think a critical spirit must be like an intoxicating wine. It gives us a false sense of heady power. It’s as if we think our criticism will make a difference in the situation even when the person we’re criticizing doesn’t know we exist, much less care what we have to say.
Facebook and the internet make this self-deception even more potent. We can say things we would never dare say face-to-face without fear of recrimination.
We are to speak the truth. There’s no question about that. We cannot keep silent and let evil triumph. But we must speak the truth in love. That means we don’t attack people. It also means our goal should always be to build the kingdom by having salvation, redemption, or restoration at the forefront of our attitudes. We can never hate people into the kingdom, but we can love them into it. If others perceive a critical spirit at the core of our words, it will turn them away, but if they can sense our love, hopefully they will be drawn to our loving Savior.
Years ago, someone came up with an acronym for remembering not to gossip. It told us to ask ourselves:
T—Is it True? Do you know the source?
H—Is it Helpful?
I—Is it Inspiring?
N—Is it Necessary?
K—Is it Kind?
This is great advice. Maybe we can take the thought one step further before we drink the cup of a critical spirit and speak words of criticism about anyone or anything.
T-H-I-N-K, Don’t D-R-I-N-K.
D—Is it Deadly, Dubious, or just plain Dumb?
R—Is it Rude?
I—Is it Injuring Someone’s reputation or spirit?
N—Is it None of My Business?
K—Will it Keep someone from knowing or serving Jesus?
The Bible, especially in the Old Testament, told of grave consequences for a critical spirit. Miriam was stricken with leprosy. The Israelites all died in the wilderness for their crummy attitude. Jesus rebuked his own disciples when they criticized a woman who spent a large sum of money on an alabaster bottle of perfume and poured it out on him. I confess I’ve struggled with this a lot in my life. I’ve never had a bubbly Pollyanna personality. Depression stalks me, and I’m easily frustrated. But my desire is to serve my Lord with all my heart and soul and mind and strength. With the Holy Spirit’s help, I will seek to keep away from this horrific sin.
Love you all. God bless you. Teresa