by Marlene Evans

I have noticed a way I criticize and listen to criticism that has, until now, somewhat been a secret fault of mine. Psalm 19:12 says, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.” This way of sweetly criticizing shows that the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart are not quite acceptable in the sight of the Lord. “Let the words of my mouth, and meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

A Sweet Way of Criticizing

“My friend is the best person in the world. She has a heart of gold. She would do anything for you. She’s good at this, that and the other, but…” Then comes the kicker. All the buildup seems to lead us to feel we can then go on for hours (time after time) discussing the one area in which she is strange.

Husbands Are Not Immune from This Sweet Poison.

“My husband is too good for me. I don’t even deserve him. I am sure I drive him crazy sometimes, but he is so patient, kind, and caring. He’s great at this, that, and the other, but…” Then come the jokes about his family, his way of choosing restaurants, clothing, food, vacations or anything else about which the wife wants to “vent her spleen.” Watch out when you hear yourself or some other wife beginning to give a big flowery speech about the husband. Be sure it stops just before the “but…”!

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Pastors Are Special Targets of Sweet Criticism.

“Our preacher is the greatest. He knows the Bible, loves his people, counsels well, is peerless at funerals and weddings, but…” Put out a red alert at this point. You had better not let your mind dwell on weaknesses of your man of God, let alone say anything about a weakness or a supposed fault. Matthew 12:34b says, “…for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”

Dr. Lee Roberson, my pastor of 11 years, said publicly one time, “That’s how I treat my good, faithful men.” He was actually correcting himself after becoming somewhat perturbed with an usher who was not caring for the people in the way they had all voted to do.

Now, Dr. Roberson can know and correct what he thinks is a problem with himself, but as long as he remains a man of God preaching the Word of God and winning souls, I just feel I have all I can say grace over to try to take care of my own problems. By the way, Dr. Roberson spent many years crisscrossing the country preaching the Word way into his nineties. I didn’t need to correct him or tell others his faults or tiptoe out. I know a person who managed to find fault with that good man until her mind would no longer let her receive help from him.

My pastor of 25 years, Dr. Jack Hyles, was always telling his faults. He tore down the wrong building once after the deacons had wanted him to appoint a committee for which he saw no need. He says he has had to fight a temper. Maybe he has to fight a temper, but I do not need to think about it. I know he is not God. That’s all I need to know.

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I know a person who dwelt on a fault or what she supposed to be a fault of Dr. Hyles. Now, she desperately needs his particular type of preaching and counseling, but she has let sweet criticism close her mind to it.

I do know I need him, his sermons, and his people who are giving and helpful as those qualities filter down from God to him and then to the people.

Children Don’t Have a Prayer!

“My kid gets good grades, does his chores, is polite, and really gives no trouble, but…” Then we sweetly tell everything we don’t like about our child, never thinking how we have told him he is never to question Mom, let alone tell her faults.

Of course, it is our job to question and correct our children, whether they be the ones at home or in our Sunday school classes or on church bus routes. It is not our job to tell their faults indiscriminately to others in order to give place to wrath, or, God forbid, to get a few laughs at their expense.

Will you join me in declaring an emergency on our criticizing or our listening to criticism done ever so sweetly as in a kiss of death?