Damned If You Do And Damned If You Don’t

Ed, my old neighbor in Saskatchewan, makes some good points about criticism. “A person can be criticized for saying something or for saying nothing. You can be blamed for doing too much or too little. Too often life is being damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”

We can get infected with both praise and criticism, but criticism keeps us sneezing and coughing, feverish and cranky. Praise makes us light-headed and happy until it leaves us hungry for more or stuck on prideful.

Dale Carnegie wrote; “Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, but it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” If it is easy to criticize, are there more folks who are criticizers than there are folks who are encouragers? Which group, the criticizers, or the encouragers, do you tend to hang out with?

I wonder how many of us could live as Will Rogers instructed: “Live so that you wouldn’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip.” Jesus warned us not to judge others, and we hope others will not be quick to judge us by what they hear about us. We realize that even what people see us doing may not be understood positively.

Jesus noted that people criticized the Prophet John the Baptist who they flocked out into the wilderness to hear and see. They said that he had a demon because he came neither eating bread nor drinking wine. When Jesus came eating and drinking, as the Son of Man, they dismissed him as a glutton and drunkard, the friend of tax collectors and sinners.

Jesus taught, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Jesus teaches that any judging we are tempted to do must always begin with ourselves. Only after we have removed the plank from our own eye can we remove the speck from another person’s eye.

Criticism is often disapproval and condemnation of another without applying the brake of: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” God would have us love our enemies, would have us do good to our enemies, would have bless those who curse us and would have us pray for those who mistreat us. God would have us show self-control and to seek understanding when dealing with others.

If any fool can criticize others, only God can empower us to love, bless and pray for others instead of finding fault with them. God calls us to go beyond loving those who love us, to look with acceptance on others, especially those with whom we do not agree. God makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

We can criticize ourselves, but God calls us to love our enemies and to do good to them. We are to be kind and encouraging, understanding and merciful towards others, rather than criticizers of them.

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