Be Still Know
Psalm 15:3 (NLT)
‘Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbours or speak evil of their friends.’
With my mum having moved in and now living with us, we have created a context in which, as with all community living, it is easier to criticise than to encourage. While such criticisms quickly spring to mind and are expressed as gossip, even if only with my wife, all such criticism is in fact based on assumption. It reveals the way I’m choosing to respond to the impact of living in close proximity to another. It reveals as much about me as it does about them!
One thing about the clothing we are invited to put on is that it is tangible and observable. Following Christ is deeply practical; I know when a critical thought emerges. I sense the urgency to communicate such a thought. Once communicated it can then become the basis for a series of criticisms that has built up. It changes nothing, hardens negative perspectives within us and excludes the person criticised, the only one with both power and opportunity to change the circumstance giving rise to criticism.
On reflection, I realise that a large percentage of my thinking is framed from a critical perspective. My interaction with global news, over which I have little influence, through to the behaviours of family and friends is often framed through a critical lens. I sometimes fail to embrace Christ’s invitation to suspend judgment, explore the sources of my criticism and make my own thinking visible to the one I criticise. All of that takes work, while being critical requires no effort at all. However, engaging with and establishing a critical outlook only removes me further from God.
I reflect just how important it is to choose to engage with the world surrounding me from a perspective less shaped by my own instinctive reactions and far more from a reflective view of how God sees someone of some set of circumstances. This requires both time and consideration, both of which can be in increasingly short supply in a fast moving and demanding world.
QUESTION: Have you ever found yourself caught up in a circle of criticism?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me not to judge others or have a critical spirit, instead help me to bless as I have been blessed by you.