14th April

Critical Spirits

My servant will not crush a bruised reed or quench a smouldering flame. Matthew 12: 20

In a world of right and wrong, in which we are free spirits, it would be foolish to ask Christians never to criticise. But think of the occasions when Jesus criticised; they were very few, always timely, and he never crushed a bruised reed. He always affirmed the people who lacked it. Criticism should only be made on rare occasions, as a last resort, in a kindly spirit, after prayer and thought, to the person concerned, and only if it is both true and necessary.

The easiest sin to commit is to criticise a brother, calling him a fool. We are usually cautious about accusing a brother of a major sin; we feel we must have sufficient evidence before making such an accusation. But to accuse a brother of doing something stupid hardly seems to matter. So we lightly toss off such critical remarks.

Yet such criticism can wound deeply. It can stay with a person for years after the person who uttered it has forgotten about it. This is because so many people lack a sense of self-worth, and fear failure. So a critical remark can destroy their confidence completely, discouraging them so much that they may never again attempt the task that was criticised.

So we must be far more vigilant against committing this easy sin than against the more obvious and serious sins.
Pelagius. To an elderly friend.

let our memory provide no shelter
for grievance against another.
let our heart provide no
for hatred of another
let our tongue be no accomplice
in the judgement of a brother.
Northumbrian Office