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Criticism.

There is plenty of it going around.  You can see plenty of it on Facebook.  Or if you read an article and there is a comment section, you don’t have to read too far to see plenty of it.

Usually criticism shows up when the topic is about things related to what we think are our identities – like politics and religion.  These are very personal for people.  Yet, when the topics stay at the non-personal level – policy and theology – criticism rears its ugly head.  When it falls to actual people, somehow it changes.

I’m not talking about normal criticism – something that is actually helpful – like constructive criticism.  Constructive criticism starts with the intent of being on the lookout for the person’s best interest in a way that is meant to build the person up, help them to be more successful.

Instead, I’m talking about criticism that is really an attack on someone.  Criticism that is intended to make someone else just like ourselves in terms of action or belief.  Criticism that is all about tearing the person down.  It’s like a virus that roams around looking for a host.

There are certain people who are so critical that they would find something wrong with Jesus if Jesus didn’t agree with them.  There’s a word for that – egotistical.

We know all of this.  So my question is this – why do so many people find the need to pay attention to these excessively critical people?  Why do some find the need to respond to all of their criticisms – knowing full well the critical person will never change their mind or their method?  They just aren’t open to a differing opinion.  It’s as if these folks have blinders on.

So what do we do with those who live their life with an extra critical sense of life?  I think there are few practical ways of dealing with these types of folks.  First, pray for them.  Not in a change them so they are like me kind of way.  Pray for their well-being and that God would touch their lives.  Second, treat them the way grace calls on us to treat them.  This is counter cultural.  This means not speaking ill of a person.  I certainly doesn’t mean engaging in an argument.  It might mean distancing yourself from that person completely – that might just be the most graceful thing you can do.  If the person bothers you that much, distance will be a blessing to you and them.  Third, set the tone and be an example of a better way of living.  We spend too much time and energy in fighting “bad” things.  Why not practice a better way of living instead?  You can’t get to an ideal by doing the exact opposite of it.  You move towards the ideal by moving in the direction of the ideal.  You can’t get out of debt by getting more credit cards and maxing them out.  You can’t get healthier by eating worse.  You don’t end up with better dialogue and a better society by attacking other people.  You don’t have peace through war.

You don’t end criticism by being critical of the really critical people in the world.  You end unhealthy criticism by showing grace and living a life of grace.