Summary: Life and death are in the power of the tongue. The Lord wants us to speak life.
Watch Your Mouth Week 2
Criticism Gone Bad
Pastor Talbert W. Swan, II
This is week number two of our sermon series “Zip It” and this week we are talking about criticism gone bad. Let’s take a look at our scripture, James 1:26-27, this is what James says. He says, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” He deceives himself. It’s really important that we get that.
We need to understand how the enemy wants to deceive us. He will stop at nothing to trick us. He’ll push us into things we have no business being in, “Man, you’re just a little curious. Just take a little peek. It won’t hurt anything,” but we need to understand that we can’t play around with stuff that he puts in our face. Sometimes, if we start looking around, and experimenting just out of curiosity, we’ll soon get hooked, so we need to just stay away and understand the deceit. Young people, maybe you are dating someone and there’s that little, you know, want a little kissy, touchy, feely, you know. You tell yourself you’ll stop at second base. You won’t … You are deceiving yourself if you think you are going to be able to stop. Look at McDonald’s French fries, oh, that’s what I’m talking about, are there any lovers of McDonald’s French fries out there? Man, you just keep putting those things away. They taste so good going down, but you know, what? If you keep doing that, in ten years you are going to weigh fifty-five hundred pounds, man.” But, what about the words that come out of our mouth? Man, we are deceiving ourselves if we think those words are not damaging and hurting people.
Things we tell ourselves, we tell ourselves things like this, “You know what? I had to get that guy. He had it coming.” I had to give her a piece of my mind… A little punch here; a little jab there. Criticism is just like a sneeze, when it finally comes out it’s a relief, it feels so good, but then you’ve got all that snot, all this other stuff and it’s like, “What do I do with that?” Right? Just wipe it off. And that’s how those words of criticism feel coming out of our mouth. We think to ourselves is, “Man, we’re giving somebody a piece of our mind. Well, it’s about time somebody gave them a piece of their mind, and I’m glad I was the one to stand up and finally do it.” Look at that. It felt so good, yet we have no idea of the damage that we are doing.
Even when we are right we can still be wrong in our response. Are we saying what we say with a critical spirit or a merciful spirit? An obsessive attitude of criticism and fault-finding, which seeks to tear others down usually dwells on the negative, seeks for flaws rather than good.
I know what you’re saying, but Pastor, I only give “Constructive criticism." The only criticism that is ever constructive is that which is expressed in love to "build up," not to tear down — it is always expressed face-to-face, never behind someone’s back.
Brothers and sisters, it is imperative that we deal with the critical spirit because it is destructive to our walk, witness, and our world. It is harmful to our relationship with God and others when we have an unforgiving, unloving , and critical attitude toward another person.
It is harmful to our witness because the world is watching us. It is harmful to our families, are churches, and our workplaces and few things do as much damage and cause as much dissension within relationships, churches and workplaces as a critical tongue and attitude.
Jesus gives us some instructions concerning the critical spirit in Luke 6:37-42.
37Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:
38Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
39And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?
40The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.
41And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
42Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye.