Criticism or Critique?

This week let’s take a look at the difference between criticism and critiquing. Moses became the object of criticism by his own siblings. (Read Numbers 12:1-16).  He had married a woman from Ethiopia, and Miriam and Aaron criticized him for his bi-racial marriage. But, based on the questions they were asking, their criticism went deeper than disfavor over his marriage:

“Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t He also spoken through us?” (Numbers 12:2)

Obviously, they were both a little miffed that their younger brother would be leader of the Israelites. Instead of accepting where God placed each of them, they went on a campaign to undermine Moses’ leadership. The Lord showed His displeasure by striking Miriam with leprosy. Aaron, the high priest, had to pronounce his own sister “unclean.”

Criticism requires an audience. Seldom does a person with a critical spirit withhold his thoughts or feelings.  People with critical spirits speak behind the other person’s back in an effort to make them look bad. Sadly, the target of the criticism often remains unaware of the negative talk–until it’s too late. The critic becomes the standard by which everyone else is judged. This generates from either a high self-esteem, looking down at others; or it comes from a low self-esteem, in an attempt to make others look bad so the critic looks better. Criticism has no end game for improvement. It is unhealthy and spreads like a disease.

Critiquing, also known as constructive criticism, is healthy and necessary, because it brings improvement in the other person.  Critiquing is offered face-to-face, and it makes the other person look good.

So, how can a person with a critical spirit change?

  1. Ask God to show you if you have a critical spirit.  “The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9.

2.  If you’ve offended someone with your criticism, take ownership by apologizing.

3. Be intentional to practice the opposite of criticizing by offering liberal amounts of   encouragement. “Encourage one another daily so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” Hebrews 3:13.

4. If you’re tempted to criticize someone behind their back, ask yourself, “Will what I’m going to say make the other person look good? Could/would I say this to their face?”

5. Pray scripture over your heart. It’s like washing water that softens and cleanses.
“God, help me to be kind and compassion toward others.” (Ephesians 4:32)
“Lord, transform my mind so I think on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable,     excellent, praiseworthy.” (Philippians 4:8).

Do you criticize or critique?