Devotional

“The average Christian is the most piercingly critical individual known. Criticism is one of the ordinary activities of people, but in the spiritual realm nothing is accomplished by it.” – Oswald Chambers 

Criticism. We’ve all felt the sting of it. We’ve all had opportunities to use it on others. But surely Christians are less critical…right? I would hope so, but we’re all human.

If you’re like most people, when you have a problem with someone else, you focus on what that person did wrong. You think the problem would get better if the other person would change. The reality is that it is not up to the Christian to criticize, debate and decide who is right. “There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5) In other words, the decision isn’t up to us. And because the decision is not ours, the debate doesn’t belong to us either.

It begs a question when we criticize others and/or retaliate when others criticize us: “Is there any possible way God can get glory from that?” It’s impossible to humbly accept God’s standard of grace for ourselves while holding others to a higher standard. “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” (Matthew 7:2) James 4:12 (TPT) adds, “There is only one true Lawgiver and Judge, the One who has the power to save and destroy—so who do you think you are to judge your neighbor?”

Imagine for a moment that you were doing some home remodeling and got a splinter in your eye. As you go through the pre-surgery preparations, the surgeon comes into the room and to your shock has a two-by-four through both eyes. That completely preposterous scene is what Jesus was illustrating when He talked about judging others. He said, “…why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend,‘ Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3-4)

It’s unwise to get in the judging business, for none of us has good enough vision to know the whole story. Only God sees with complete vision. Jesus said we must first focus on our own shortcomings, on changes we need to make. This is not to say that those around us don’t have faults, bad habits, and sins. They do. But despite that, we must also think beyond our selfish needs to be “right” or “better” than someone else and focus first on our part and leave the judging to God.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How can we focus on the changes we need to make and not on other people’s faults? 
  2. How can prayer help us make the changes we need to make?