Criticism: Checking our Motives for It Before We Speak

Posted: December 27, 2014 in 99-Uncategorized

uke 6:37-42 — Hypocrisy. Saying one thing doing another. Acting one and living another. Criticizing others when you have a closet full of faults that need attention. Mark Twain once said, “We are all like the moon. We have a dark side that we do not want anyone to see.” These are the things that we, as Christians, are often accused of by non-believers. And you know, in many cases, it is true. Jesus takes square aim at hypocrisy in today’s text. He uses an illustration to make His point but His point could not be clearer. Jesus often used hyperbole, exaggerated language, to make His lessons quite clear. Here, he uses a speck in the eye vs. a log in the eye. It seems hilarious to us and it was hilarious to Jesus’ listeners that day. But with the humor, Jesus drives his point home with force! What are we to learn from Jesus today? Are we to keep quiet when we see others blatantly live a life that is the opposite of what they proclaim? Are we not to stand for what is biblical? I don’t think Jesus is saying that. I think He is saying that we need to check our own closet before we criticize anyone.

Jesus said in this illustration that we should get the log out of our own eye before trying to get the speck out of another man’s eye. Yes, Jesus is telling us to check our motives when criticizing others. If it because you have become “religious” and have made being Christian be about keeping checklists of do’s and don’t’s, and pride yourself for the parts of the checklist that you keep while ignoring the ones you don’t then yes you are a hypocrite. Before we criticize others, we should go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to reveal any of our weaknesses in the area where we are going to criticize others, in particular, and to reveal to us all of our weaknesses. This should temper our need to criticize. Certainly, we need to check our motivation to criticize. If it is to create a pecking order between you and the person, then pride is the motivation. If the motivation to criticize is to tear someone down for a perceived advantage that they have over you, then hatred or jealousy is your motive. These types of criticism are like that church member who is jealous of you because of the access you have to the senior pastor that they do not have and jealous of the position(s) that you have at church but yet they do not see the servant’s heart that you have. They do not see the long hours given in love to the church. They just see what you have but don’t want all the hard parts – the dedication, the long hours, the sacrifices. When these things are the motives of criticism, then, we need to consider the sin that we have in our hearts that is giving rise to the criticism. If our motivation is love, if our motivation is not to tear down, if our motivation is to restore, if our motivation is reconciliation, then we will go to our friend or foe and speak to them privately. In those instances, we must admit our failures and lapses to them but tell them that out of love I want to point something out to you. This approach, again, must be bathed in prayer and seeking revelation from God about our own flaws. Jesus is not telling us to keep quiet. He is telling us to check our motivations before we criticize. There is an eternal difference between hypocritical criticism and loving criticism.

Another thing we need to talk about here is that this passage is the clarion call of the non-believer and the unrepentant sinner. This passage is their source for the “anything goes” battle cry. Anyone who lives an unbiblical lifestyle will use this to combat criticism of their lifestyle. Hypocrites they call anyone who points out that their lifestyle is in contrast to Scripture. Anything goes. Anything goes. That is the battle cry of today’s increasingly secular world. As long as I am not personally hurting you in some way, then, what I do is my own business. What is right for me may not be what is right for you so leave me alone because it is right for me. We now live in a world where Christianity is considered old-fashioned. It is not considered in step with the times. Today, the philosophy or religion is about personal free will and that I am my own god. I am god of me. You are god of you. As long as my self-created god and associated beliefs do not impinge on you and your self made god and self made belief system, then we are all good. There are no longer any moral absolutes. Truth is relative to the person who perceives. My truth and your truth can conflict with one another but both be equally true. This is the world we live in. Luke 6:41-42 is what is used to keep us quiet about that which is unbiblical. We cannot criticize because we have our own sins to worry about. We then for the most part remain quiet and sit on the sidelines and bemoan what has become of the world. We cannot say a thing, according to the secular world, because we are hypocrites to criticize another person when we have our own sins.

How do we respond to the world when they use Jesus’ words against us? I think we respond by saying yes we are flawed. We respond to the world outside our church walls in the same way we do within. We need to check our motivations. Protesting with loud speakers against gays is not properly motivated. Bombing abortion clinics is not properly motivated. Our motivation should be loving correction. Our motivation should be to get to know the girl who feels she needs an abortion. Our motivation should be to get to know the gay guy or gal. Each needs to know of God’s love. Each needs to be engaged with people that show Jesus’ same love to sinners. Jesus did not come to solidify the already saved. He came to save sinners. Jesus developed relationships with sinners – one on one. Should we not be same with those whose lifestyle is clearly unbiblical. We need to engage instead of standing on the sideline with protest placards. Westboro Baptist Church has not brought anyone to Christ with their belligerant tactics. We move check our motivations. Our motivations should be to get to know someone so well that they see that we admit our flaws and that we are thankful for a gracious God. Let our relationship with Christ help us point them to Scripture. Again, if our motivation is hate, jealousy or any other emotion than love, then, yes, we are hypocrites of the worst kind. If our motivation is to love those whose lifestyles turn our stomach, and we deal with each person one on one, then we go about earning our place in their lives and earning the right to speak truth into it. Love should always be our motivation when we criticize. Love should always be our motivator. Love brings people to Christ not hate. Love motivates people to repent not hate. Love changes everything. Hate only ensures the status quo.

There is an old song by Cyndi Lauper that says, “Money changes everything.” I am going to adopt it and change it a bit. “Love. Love changes everything.” What is your motivation for criticizing others? What is mine? Is it love?

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