[a] Someone has said, that when we point the finger of criticism at anyone, there are three pointing back at ourselves, and the thumb is pointing in criticism to God.
[b] How do you feel about someone who’s always complaining?
Exactly! You avoid them like the plague.
[c] Criticism can be especially detrimental in a child’s life. Someone has written what they have called ‘The Parent’s Creed’.
If a child lives with criticism - he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility - he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule - he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame - he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance - he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement - he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise - he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness - he learns justice.
If a child lives with security - he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval - he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship -
he learns to find love in the world
[a] All down through our officership, we have come across those who could never find anything good in any situation. It just went right over their heads - all they could do was complain and find fault.
[b] But the one common factor was that, although they could find faults in other people, they could never see their own!
[c] From what Jesus says, it is not anything new - even then - there were those who were always trying to put other people right, whenever they themselves had much more wrong with them, and couldn’t see it!
[d] God has given us no directive to find fault with others - but rather to look into our own hearts, the thought being, that we will find plenty there that needs to be put right . In fact, He says, in our reading, “Judge not that ye be not judged.”
[e] It thrills the devil, when we are so occupied with putting others right, that we neglect our own spiritual experience. Apart from that, what can be more divisive, than someone who constantly offends you, by picking holes in everything you do. I’m sure like me, it gets right up your nose too!
[a] I have been in a really uplifting meeting, where I have felt the touch of the Holy Spirit, only to be confronted with a ‘hole picker’ who because of their obsession in putting others right, has missed any good or blessing, that the meeting could have brought them - and now want to spread their misery around, willing to hinder the work of God, through their pettiness!
[b] Jesus is saying, deal with your own life first - your spiritual problems are much bigger - get yourself right, and then you will be able to see the situation much more clearly, through spiritual eyes, to help your brother or sister with their problem. After all, He says, how can you get the speck out of someone’s eye, whenever you’ve got a plank in your own!
[c] But you know a strange thing - once your own spiritual vision is clear, other people don’t seem to have half the problems you thought they had.
[d] It is worth noting, that the name given to the devil in Revelation 12:10, is ‘the ACCUSER’.
In other words, he picks holes, and accuses the children of God.
[a] I remember someone who was meant to be a Christian, verbally attacking me in a town centre, about wearing a uniform! After all there were no uniforms in the Bible! Therefore I was disobeying Scripture! I did tell him how sad I felt he was, and so lacking the very essence of what being a Christian is all about. He was so intent in picking holes, he had lost the plot completely!
[b] Unfortunately, I’ve met people like that in corps so often too. Their Salvation, if that’s what it is, consists of self-righteously picking holes in everyone else, and getting some sort of perverted satisfaction from it! God help them. They need the touch of the Lord on their lives!
[c] If someone like that bothers you - don’t get angry - that’s what the devil wants! Rather, feel sorry for them, and pray for them.
[d] Do you know that there are many Christians today, and they’ve forgotten why they actually go to church!
How can you come to worship before God with the thought in your heart that you will make a show of ignoring someone, to make your point.
Some come to worship, intent on spreading gossip about another Christian.
The devil wants us to get so wrapped up with trivialities, that the important work of the Kingdom is neglected, and even lost.
Then we dare to wonder why our meetings are sometimes spiritually dead
[a] However, having said all that, it is a trap which any of us could fall into.
The one congregation that officers hate addressing, is not the likes of yourselves, but a congregation of other officers! They are said to be the most critical congregation you can get!
[b] Even the early church had it’s problems in this respect - indeed, amongst the Apostles, no less!
[c] The council of Jerusalem in Acts, came about, because some of the early teachers, insisted that you couldn’t be a Christian, unless you also became a Jew, through being circumcised! (Acts 15:1) I mentioned, last week, how some Christians tack on things like baptism in the same way.
[d] The Apostle Paul and others were not afraid to stand for the truth.
Act 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
The Apostle’s wrote a letter and said,
Act 15:24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
Act 15:11 Peter said, But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
[e] Matthew Henry, the Bible commentator says, “Here is a good rule for reprovers; first reform thyself.” There’s always more than enough wrong with ourselves to take up our attention, without criticizing, and picking holes in others.
[f] Like most preachers, I get to know what individuals are thinking during the sermon! It can be very educational, and sometimes amusing! Like the person who’s sitting there with the hint of a grin, saying to themselves, “Hey! That fits ….. down to the ground! Sock it to ‘em preacher!”
Yet they are totally unaware, it has a much stronger application to themselves, if they could just take their critical eye of others long enough to see it!
[g] As long as we are disobeying Jesus, and judging others, we will never amount to anything spiritually ourselves, because our attention is not focused on our own spiritual experience.
[a] It is always easier to decide on what someone else should do, rather than give attention to ourselves. We always seem to have a less critical eye, when it comes to ourselves. We much more easily make excuses about what we have or have not done.
[b] There’s also the thought that while we allow our attention to be taken up with others, we are taking our eyes of Jesus.
[c] The thought that Jesus gives, of someone trying to see to remove a splinter from someone else's eye, with a metaphorical plank in their own a bit like a Laurel and Hardy movie. Yet it is what Christians are occupied with most of all!
[d] We’ve got to ask ourselves “Do I pick holes, or do I practice holiness?”
[e] The Bible says, 2Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
[f] We need to allow the light of God to flood our souls, and reveal those things that need attention.
Song (in Salvation Army Song Book) 389 also chorus 61
Songs and Choruses (in Happiness & Harmony) 10, 32, 46, 4