Be Careful What You Say

"Brothers and sisters, do not slander another.  Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it.  When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it."  James 4:11

One day, a pastor received a note with just one word written on it:  Fool!  The next Sunday, he reported to his congregation that in his time he had received many notes without signatures, or anonymous notes.  This was the first time ever, he said, that he had received a signature without a note!

Most of us would like to think that we can withstand criticism, but some criticism is hard to stomach, especially when it gets personal.  Some people freely aim their personal darts our way, and it can sting.  But, we need to remember both how to handle criticism and how to give it.

Handling Criticism

1.  Ignore personal assaults on your character if they are not true.  If true, however, ponder the remarks without growing discouraged.

2.  Do not relatiate.  Sometimes your best response is no response at all.  Silence does have its place.  If you retaliate, you repeat the sin of your critic.

3.  Pray over the words.  Ask God to help you to make any changes that need to be made.

Giving Criticism

1.  Pray over your words in advance, asking yourself:

     a.  Are these words necessary?

     b.  Will they build others up or destroy them?

     c.  Would Jesus have said them?

2.  Pray for the person you seek to criticize.

3.  Exercise the greatest of gentleness and graciousness when offering criticism (Galatians 6:1).

English evangelist George Whitefield learned that it was more important to please God than to please men.  Knowing that he was doing what was honoring to the Lord kept him from discouragement when he was falsely accused by his enemies.  At one point in his ministry, Whitefield received a vicious letter accusing him of wrongdoing.  His reply was brief and courteous:  "I thank you heartily for your letter.  As for what you and my other enemies are saying against me, I know worse things about myself than you will ever say about me.  With love in Christ, George Whitefield." 

It is no wonder why God used George Whitefield the way He did.

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