Imagine, if you will, that you are sitting in a hospital just moments away surgery. Everything seems normal. Suddenly, your surgeon bursts through the door, and in his hand, he holds a large butcher knife. With no anesthesia, no proper precautions, and obviously the incorrect tools, the surgeon begins hacking away.

Regardless of your original condition or illness, this approach is going to make things much worse for you. We would all say that the surgeon depicted in this particular narrative is not much of a surgeon at all.  His methodology is skewed, and he could quite fairly be called a lunatic.

What kind of madman – with the task of complex surgery – would exchange a sharp, precise medical scalpel for a butcher knife?

Yet everyday, Christians around the world choose to approach topics with “butcher knife” style rhetoric rather than surgical precision – especially in large scale forums

It’s likely that most of you have seen the meme that says, “If anyone ever asks, “What Would Jesus Do?’, remind him that flipping over tables and chasing people with a whip is within the realm of possibilities.” While this is somewhat humorous, it is not a fair argument, and I believe far too many use this line of thinking while engaging with others.

Christ was, at times, explicitly direct, but the smallest amount of serious study will show:

  • it was rarely toward large groups but rather toward individuals or small gatherings. (Think small groups/one-on-one discipleship; not Facebook.)
  • His words were never wrongly fueled by an emotional response, such as anger. Christ’s actions in the temple were of holy indignation toward the abuse of God’s house, not the fruit of a sanctimonious power trip, as some would make it sound.
  • He communicated differently in different contexts without compromising the truth.

As Christians, we will have opportunities to address tough situations, but we need to choose wisely when and how to speak.

I am not advocating for no criticism, or no discussion, or no debate. To remove these things would, I believe, prove quite harmful to the work of the ministry. Rather, I am advocating for thoughtful criticism, carried out in proper contexts, working toward definitive, predetermined results.

If you can’t discern the time or place to properly give constructive critiques or admonishment to another Biblically, than it might be best for you to abstain in that given moment.

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. – Colossians 4:6

One thought on “A Call To More Thoughtful Criticism

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