Last night I went to a meeting of a small group from a church in a friend’s home. I like going to these meetings. Everyone is really nice and treats each other with real respect and care. It is important for people to have a group of peers to encourage and lead them.

That stuff makes me feel good. Life may not be about feeling good but it sure is nice to experience from time to time.

One thing that we do not do at our meetings is to criticize. I like that. I try my best to avoid criticism whenever possible.

Criticism is bad. Right?

Proverbs 15:31 If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise.

Yeah, I don’t like to listen to any kind of criticism. Yet, it is important that I hear, not so much about personal criticism of the shape of my nose or how I’m so ugly I can make a freight train take a dirt road, but criticism of behaviors.

If I don’t understand what is wrong with my behavior, I can’t really become a better man. Constructive criticism builds me. It doesn’t tear me down. I need not fear it like I do.

This brings me to the other side of the coin. What about the criticism I have to offer?

I have to admit, most of my criticism is not constructive. I can’t build someone up by talking behind their back. It is my pride at work pointing out another person’s flaws. My pride is lifting myself up and putting another down and bringing yet another into it.

This is not helping anyone. It hurts me, the victim of my words and the person that I share them with.

If a person’s behaviors are bad enough that I need to talk to someone about them, I had best be planning on making that person that someone.

I have a responsibility to hear criticism to be built up and to share it in order to build up others. If I criticize to build myself up, I am trying to undo the good work Christ is doing in me.

Sitting here this morning, it is easy for me to look back at times that I wish I had kept my mouth shut. I rambled on about lots of things that, had I applied this simple proverb to, would have remained unsaid. I was a fool among the wise. I was a fool among fools.

It still happens. I’m pretty sure it happened a couple of times yesterday. It is important that I strive to use my words for better things today.

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