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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN


Critiquing the Critics

A playwright had lunch with friends the day after his new play opened on Broadway. They asked him how it was going. He replied, "The show got divided marks. We liked it, but the critics didn't." There are always critics who don't like the play. In fairness, "critic" and "criticism" are not always bad. Critic is defined as "a person skilled in judging the merits of literary or artistic works; one who passes judgement; a fault-fmder." Criticism is defined as "being critical; a review or analysis of a book, play, work of art, etc. by a critic" (both definitions from Webster's Universal Dictionary & Thesaurus). We are all critics at one time or another and we all make — and receive — criticism. The dicey thing about criticism is knowing when to give it and when not to, and when to listen to it and when not to. That decision requires that we critique the critics who are critiquing us! Critics can be way off the mark. The sinless Son of God had no peers. But He did have critics who said He had a demon and that He worked for the devil and that He fraternized with sinners and that He was a rebel who stirred up trouble and disturbed the peace. Their saying it didn't make it so, but those were some of the criticisms leveled at Him by critics who had ulterior motives. Leave it to these self-appointed critics to find fault with the only Man in history who had no faults to fmd. The apostle Paul had critics who said he couldn't preach well and that he was a troublemaker and a false teacher and that he only preached for money. As with Jesus, Paul's critics had no real basis for their criticisms but that didn't stop them from holding forth with criticism. The fact of the matter is, there are times when the shame is that we are not criticized! Jesus warned, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets" (Luke 6:26). The truth is if we never receive any criticism at all, something is likely amiss in our lives, especially as Christians.

We should all develop an appreciation for constructive criticism. But the Bible warns us not to believe or receive baseless and unjustified things others might say about us. Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 offers this interesting and important directive: "Also do not take to heart everything people say, Lest you hear your servant cursing you. For many times, also, your own heart has known That even you have cursed others." Some need to stop being so touchy about every little thing others say to or about us. A judge in a certain town was repeatedly the butt of snide remarks by a conceited lawyer. At dinner one day, a friend asked the judge why he putupwith it. The judge stopped eating and replied, "In my hometown lives a widow who has a dog that howls at the moon all night when it shines." Stopping the story short, the judge began eating again. After a moment, one in the dinner party asked, "Well, Judge, what about the dog and the moon?" Said the judge, "Oh, the dog keeps on barking and the moon just keeps on shining." The point is not to gainsay all criticism or suggest all criticism is bad and unneeded. The point is we need the ability to measure the value of criticism. Critique the critic before you take everything he says to heart.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ