The tamed tongue – Hope 103.2

The tamed tongue

By David ReayWednesday 15 Jun 2016LifeWords DevotionalsFaithReading Time: 0 minutes


Read Matthew 7:1-5

1 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 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?
5 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. (NLT)

It has been said that no one has ever built a statue to a critic. We don’t think much of critics. At first glance, Jesus seems to join in the chorus of condemnation. But there is actually nothing wrong with criticism as such. Jesus is attacking the wrong sort of criticism.

First, he attacks judgementalism. A tendency to write people off; to deliver final verdicts on others; to assume a position of moral superiority. Second, he warns against hypocrisy. If we are going to criticise others we need to be aware of our own failings. It is so easy for us to overlook our own faults by focussing on the faults of others. I may have a real problem with gossip and, instead of facing it, I attack others for having the same problem.

Note that Jesus does encourage us to take the speck out of our friend’s eye: it is not kind to let people go astray. Criticism can be constructive. But unless we are aware of our own failings, we will make a mess of it. Just like literally removing a speck from someone’s eye is a delicate task, so too is constructive criticism.

Our criticism of others can lead to either hurtful wounds or uncomfortable healing. Let’s choose wisely.

David Reay