The Culture of Criticism

If the culture of fear has a partner in creating an atmosphere of anxiety, uncertainty and pessimism it is the culture of criticism. The will to and the way of criticism thrives in our society. Often it seems that anyone and everyone with access to a computer or a microphone readily joins in the critic’s chorus without regard to the damage being done.

Obviously criticism has a place. Well-intended constructive criticism shared in a gentle spirit of mutual respect can accomplish needed changes and growth, but in our current culture of criticism there is little place or patience for this. It is all about tearing down with little regard of building up again.

We find in our national and local politics. It is a hallmark in all branches of our media. Unfortunately we discover it even in our churches.

Being a critic takes little effort. There is no doubt that we all can find a reason to criticize anyone or anything if we so desire. If our goal in such criticism is to merely expose mistakes, deflect impropriates of our own, expand a personal agenda or to be destructive, then we represent this harmful and ugly culture. It is simply irresponsible to offer criticism without also offering positive alternatives and solutions.

Jesus was a target of the culture of criticism and was acquainted with its dangers. He used absurdity to illustrate its folly.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother; ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye’; when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7: 3-4)

He used the word “hypocrite” in his next sentence and the culture of criticism often appears hypocritical but that seldom slows it down. It grinds on leaving anger, fear, gridlock and failure in its path.

Of all of the places that should eradicate this critical culture the church should be foremost. Yet it exists and has even flourished in God’s family creating pain and division that frequently lingers long after the harsh words are spoken. To this end the Apostle Paul warned:

If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. (Galatians 5:15)

His emphasis in this text immediately before this verse was on love- and Christ’s love is the way to eliminate the mean-spiritedness found in the culture of criticism. Love motivates us to do no harm to our neighbors and even when constructive criticism is warranted, love will ensure it will neither bite nor devour.

God has given us clear teaching on how to work together to approach and solve our differences and the way of the culture of criticism is not found in it. (See Matthew 5:21-26; 38-48; 18: 15-22; Ephesians 4:31-32; James 1:19-20; 2:12-13)

Let’s honor the culture of Christ and refuse to allow the culture of criticism any entrance into our hearts and our churches.

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13 Responses to The Culture of Criticism

  1. Christi says:

    I needed to hear this Danny. Thanks for reminding me that criticism has it’s place….in a gentle spirit. good blog!

    ~ Christi

  2. DJG says:

    I sat in a semi-private hospital room tonight listening to the “other” side’s guest criticize everything that our government does or is doing….it made me sick. I don’t want to be guilty of sickening someone else with my endless critiques of those around me. I think this is one of the many ways that “love covers a multitude of sins”

  3. Ben Overby says:

    Speaking from my own experience (as a “judging type”), an inner transformation is essential to shedding the the destructive tool of criticism. When we’re THE center, criticism is usually little more than attempted advancement of our kingdom by diminishing the other. It’s cultivated in the heart of pride, a rotten arrogance that is compelled to illustrate it’s superiority by highlighting the weakness in everyone and everything. I don’t have to be a brilliant engineer or transportation architect to assume a position of superiority. All I have to be able to do is throw a log on the tracks to show the weakness of the system. But any numb-headed, jerk wad can derail a train. It takes hard work, dedication, and all the rest to lay track and build engines. Usually the criticism says more about the critic than the one under attack. Thanks, Danny. I couldn’t agree more!

  4. Danny says:

    Great way of illustrating Ben. I like that.

    Hello Christi. Thanks for stopping by and posting.

    And I always appreciate your input Donna!

  5. Orange Grover says:

    Preach it, bro! Critically speaking, I’d like to force some critics to read what you’ve written. But that might not be too loving…
    Les Ferguson, Jr.
    Wayfarer’s Trek–check it out!

  6. JD says:

    Excellent, Danny. I think we excuse ourselves for criticizing others with the notion that we are right. So it’s not really criticism, it’s just pointing out the truth! The critical spirit can turn something true into a vomitous mess. And it’s easy, once escaping the critical spirit, to be critical of those still trapped. It’s a big deal we need to pay a lot of attention to!

  7. CL says:

    Good post Danny,

    I find it way too easy to criticize others myself. One thing I have noted about myself is my ability to criticize others outside of verbal interaction. In ways such as; body language, attitude, even not allowing someone into my circle or to take it one step further not giving someone credence because I believe they can’t possibly know as much as me. It goes back to what Ben said, this all starts with a heart of pride. Thanks for this post Danny, I needed it today.

  8. Steve Puckett says:

    Good thoughts bro. Sorry I didn’t get to look you up at SGW.

    Peace.

  9. Candle (C & L) says:

    Danny – Of course you are wrong about…. :):)

    You have done a great job & sevice in challenging us to move out of this culture of criticism. I wonder what would happen within God’s church – the church Jesus died for if his disciples (you know — the kind that God adds to the church and who were called Christians first at Antioch)
    – if those disciples concentrated on letting the Spirit transform them so they experienced his fruits and if they were “salt, leaven & light” going about making disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey what Jesus taught his disciples (maybe starting with the sermon on the mount)– instead of spending so much time critizing those who don’t have their understanding of what it means to be a Christian.

    Nore: I’m not suggesting that anyone should compromise what they understand Jesus was teaching — just that they don’t have to be spending all their time — in a very “non-loving” way — trying to prove that others “will be damned if they don’t agree with them”

    I think for most Christians (and I am confident through my faith in Jesus that I can claim that relationship) it is more than enough to “live up to what we already know” while waiting for God to make other things clear to us.(Phil 4)

  10. Royce Ogle says:

    Wow, a great post and great comments. You guys and gals are good!

    I seem to remember Jesus saying “If you have done it to the least of these you have done it unto me…”

    When young Saul went with great zeal to round up those who were “The Way”, chain them, and put them in jail because of their faith, He was confronted by none other than the glorified Christ who asked “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting ME?”

    Perhaps Jesus takes the way we talk to, and about, our brothers and sisters more seriously than we think.

  11. Lee Hodges says:

    I have never seen a critical spirit that overflowed with humility. Some how, they just don’t go together. Thanks for sharing this — I needed it!

  12. Danny says:

    My grandmother used to say that if we busied oursleves with keeping the dirt cleaned up on our front porch then we would not have the time to be checking out our neighbors porch!

    Thanks for stopping by and posting folks! I appreciate it.

    And Steve- I am sorry we were not able to connect either.

  13. Stoogelover says:

    Someone has observed that no one ever built a statue for a critic. Must be a lesson there. Good thoughts.
    I read your post often, first time (I think) to respond.

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