“Do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged”

Colossians 3:21

We women have a negative stereotype that looms over our heads.  It takes on many forms such as nagging, henpecking, harping.  But if we are willing to face the truth, it is primarily a critical spirit.  Our families can be our easiest target.  Perhaps that’s because we feel more responsible for managing the home and family life.  We are also more sensitive to early signs of potential problems, so we try to change people and ward off difficulties by judging, condemning, and disapproving of anything or anyone that has the possibility of upsetting our perfect ideals. 

What we need to realize is that our criticism can be a very toxic thing.  It can lead to resentment, arguments, and hostility.  It can break-up marriages, push away family members, and damage all sorts of relationships.  Criticism, in whatever form we put it in, does very little to change any person or situation.  It has no real power.  And if someone takes action as a result of our criticism, they only do it for their own peace and quiet – not because they have made any genuine change.

In Christ’s day, the Pharisees were masters at criticizing.  They thought the only way to change people was by disapproval.  Jesus first encounter with the Pharisees was when he taught them in the Temple at the age of 12.  Later, they traveled from Jerusalem to Galilee to see what all the hype about him was.  When they arrived, they did not focus on the glorious coming of the Messiah.  Nor did they wonder at the man with the healing hands, or the giver of life opening the gospel to sinful souls.  No – they focused on one thing, the unwashed hands of Christ’s disciples (Mark 7:1-5).  In their criticism of Christ, they passed by the great and saw only the trivial.  They became small by what they wanted to see.  No wonder Jesus called them “blind fools.” (Matthew 23:17) 

One who is hypercritical is usually hypocritical, thinking themselves to be pious and self-righteous.  So how do we stop this negative critical web we have tangled ourselves up in?  A good place to start is by asking ourselves if what we are about to say will encourage someone – or not.  Will it motivate them in a positive way to become a better person?  Will it let them know that we are for them and value them?  We must learn to let people know we appreciate them not only for what they are, but for what they may become in Christ.

            The way to stop being critical is by beginning with one encouraging word – and

            building from there.