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Come and Sit By Me (published in The North Weld Herald 9/30/10)

posted Sep 7, 2013, 1:15 PM by Fccea Webmaster

Teddy Roosevelt's oldest daughter, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, lived a long, spirited and unconventional life as a member of Washington society. Her basic attitude was reflected in the quote: "If you haven't got anything good to say about anyone, come and sit by me."

So are we sitting with Alice? If we are, we should realize that criticism hurts the one doing the criticizing as much as the one being criticized. God says in Galatians 5:15, "But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another." Expect to get what you give!

The Bible also says in Proverbs 11:12, "Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent." The critical person reveals much more than he or she intends about themselves.

Psychologist and counselor, Cecil Osborne in his book The Art of Loving Yourself, says this: "An excessively critical attitude is a dead giveaway. It reveals an individual who has a very poor opinion of himself. The worst critic is usually the one who is unconsciously most critical of himself. He dislikes himself intensely and when he gets fed up with his own self-hate, he projects the rest onto those about him in the form of criticism." At heart, critics are unhappy and unfulfilled people.

Criticism demonstrates a lack of trust in God. We are playing God in someone else's life. Matthew Arnold was a British critic and moralist who lived in the mid to late 19th century. His writings were critiques of what he saw as the flaws, hypocrisies and inconsistencies of British society. He was usually right, but he was left a bitter and twisted man.

Robert Louis Stevenson remarked concerning Arnold when he died, "Poor Matt. He's gone to heaven, no doubt -- but he won't like God." Criticism expresses the opinion that God isn't doing a very good job in someone else's life. As opposed to our perfect life, of course! Better to leave it alone. Let God be God.

One more thing about criticism. It takes a very short view of things. It nitpicks things that matter little if at all in the long run. How dreadfully often we do this unwittingly to our children.

We're like the hypercritical football coach. One of his players ran 100 yards for a touchdown on Saturday. But during the Monday film session the coach said, "Morgan, you carried the ball loosely and in the wrong hand. You ran to the inside when you should have run to the outside. You made it hard on your blockers." To which Morgan replied, "Well, coach, how was it for distance?"

Criticism kills the spirit -- of both the offender and the critic. "But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another." Let's not sit with Alice.

By His Grace, Pastor Dave