Summary: If you don’t want to be judged, don’t judge others; and if you want heavenly rewards, judge yourself.
There’s the story of the conscientious wife who tried very hard to please her ultracritical husband, but failed regularly. He always seemed the most cantankerous at breakfast. If the eggs were scrambled, he wanted them poached; if the eggs were poached, he wanted them scrambled. One morning, with what she thought was a stroke of genius, the wife poached one egg and scrambled the other and placed the plate before him. Anxiously she awaited what surely this time would be his unqualified approval. He peered down at the plate and snorted, “Can’t you do anything right, woman? You’ve scrambled the wrong one!”
I want to talk to you today about criticism, or, as the Bible calls it, judging. While it is true that some criticism is helpful—we call this kind of criticism constructive criticism—most criticism is destructive.
One of Aesop’s fables tells of an old man and his son bringing a donkey to the market. Passing some people on the way, they hear one remark, “Look at that silly pair—walking when they could be riding comfortably.”
The idea seemed sensible to the old man, so he and the boy mounted the donkey and continued on their way. Soon they passed another group. “Look at that lazy pair,” said a voice, “breaking the back of that poor donkey, tiring him so that no one will buy him.”
The old man slid off, but soon they heard another criticism from a passerby: “What a terrible thing, this old man walking while the boy gets to ride.”
They changed places, but soon heard people whispering, “What a terrible thing, the big strong man riding and making the little boy walk.”
The old man and the boy pondered the situation and finally continued their journey in yet another manner, carrying the donkey on a pole between them.
As they crossed the bridge, the donkey broke loose, fell into the river, and drowned.
Aesop’s moral: You can’t please everyone.
Here’s an alternative moral to the fable: Destructive criticism never helps.
We hear criticism all the time. People criticize their boss, their pastor, the government. George Burns once said, “Too bad that all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxicabs and cutting hair.”
After a minister preached a sermon on spiritual gifts, he was greeted at the door by a lady who said, “Pastor, I believe I have the gift of criticism.” He looked at her and asked, “Remember the person in Jesus’ parable who had the one talent? Do you recall what he did with it?” “Yes,” replied the lady, “he went out and buried it.” With a smile, the pastor suggested, “Go thou, and do likewise!”
The believers in Rome were divided over special diets and special days. Some of the members thought it was a sin to eat meat, so they ate only vegetables. Other members thought it a sin not to observe the Jewish holy days. If each Christian had kept his convictions to himself, there would have been no problem, but they began to criticize and judge one another. The one group was sure the other group was not at all spiritual.
Read Romans 14:1-12.
1 Judge [criticize] not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judge: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
The New Living Translation translates these verses this way: “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged. For others will treat you as you treat them. Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged.”
DeWitt Talmage remarked, “Without exception, the people who have the greatest number of faults are themselves the most merciless in their criticism of others. They spend their lives looking for something lowly rather than something lofty.”
A preacher, capitalizing on this fact, devised an effective way of handling such critics. He kept a special book labeled, “Complaints of Members Against One Another.” When one of them would tell him about some fault of a fellow parishioner, he would say, “Well, here’s my complaint book. I’ll write down what you say, and you can sign you name to it. When I see that person, I’ll take up the matter with him.” That open ledger, and the critic’s awareness of his own faults, always had a restraining effect. Immediately the complainer would exclaim, “Oh, no, I couldn’t sign anything like that!” In 40 years that book was opened a thousand times, but no entry was ever made.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote [speck of sawdust] that is in they brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam [plank] 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?