Thursday, September 20, 2012
If the truth is, "you're bleeding from a sucking chest wound", that's probably...no, definitely...a good thing.
The problem is that it leaves open the option of criticizing, of telling someone the truth as you see it and feeling righteous. In other word, let fly with everything you wanted to tell your spouse/child/parent/friend/boss, and stand back feeling good...I mean, you're acting on God"s orders, right?
Wrong. Dead wrong. To get the Scriptural stuff out of the way, in 2 Cor. 6:3 Paul tells us not to give offense to anyone, lest the church or ministry be discredited.
Sound stuff - what you say stands for who you work for.
But beyond this, our words can have a huge effect on people - far greater than we might expect. A word of encouragement can lift someone through a hard day, through the decisive hard day of their life.
But conversely, a negative comment can run a long way on its short little legs. As a personal (and embarrassing) illustration, years ago I was told by a woman (not my wife) that I had less romantic sense than a piece of plywood.
She was a friend whose opinion I valued, and later said she didn't mean to hurt me...but it stuck. Previously I'd tried to be 'sensitive and romantic', trying to understand what might make a woman happy. But after that, my efforts were dead on arrival and I knew it. I tried, but I was like a hog on roller skates.
My fault for letting someone get under my skin? Sure.
Did I try to work on it? Sure. Successfully? Not in my heart. It feels awkward, and whatever grace I had will never come back. (Fortunately my wife doesn't mind, but honestly - she deserved more.)
Point is, whenever you're tempted to criticize someone, ask yourself - are you doing it for their sake, or for yours?
Because if you're doing it for you, you may be asking someone to carry a far greater burden, far further than you realize.