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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Critical vs. Graceful

Ephesians 4:29 –“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Do your words minister grace to those to whom you speak?  Or are your words critical?  Do you find yourself pointing out the flaws of someone’s effort or performance?
A critical spirit can expose itself in several ways…the husband who constantly reminds his wife that things just aren’t being done as they should be around the house, the dad who hammers away at his children’s mistakes but rarely praises their good works, the church member who must tell someone what was wrong with today’s service, and on and on. 
Let’s admit it; some of us are good complainers and criticizers. 
But what does this say about us?
We know that our words reveal our hearts.  Matthew 15:18 teaches, “the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart.”
A critical heart reveals our pride… “No one can do this or that as well as I”…“I need to point this out otherwise this person will never get this right”, etc...
And God hates our pride and it is something that we must root out. Proverbs 16:5, “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished”. 
We should also remember that we are called to be kind-hearted and forbearing and patient with our brothers and sisters. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
If we notice we are particularly attuned to finding and pointing out where others have not met our own standard, then our focus needs to be shifted.
Christ has lifted us from our own failures and shortcomings and God is glorified in our imperfections.  Is God more glorified when others do something “just right” all the time or when they at times make a mess of things and God still works it all out? 
If you’re looking for perfection, look to God. Deuteronomy 32:4 teaches us that “his work is perfect” and Samuel says “his ways are prefect” (2 Samuel 22:31).  Certainly, we see most clearly the Perfection of God in the manifestation of His Son, Jesus.  The author of Hebrews says this of him, “being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him”.
Praise God that he sent this perfect Jesus and demonstrated magnificent grace to us even though we are far from perfect.   The next time you’re tempted to be critical drive your thoughts to the cross and remember the cost of grace displayed there.  Prayerfully, we can give a little grace when so much has been given to us. 

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