The Mississippi Baptist Foundation  |  est. 1943  |  Psalm 24:1
client login


          Sitting in a large circle of youth on the gym floor at church, a 14-year-old boy wanted to give an appropriate response to the student minister’s question regarding abilities, talents, and observable gifts that contributed to the uniqueness of each young people that was present. One young man noted his athletic prowess, while musical ability was submitted by a couple of others. Academic excellence was offered by several students. Although agreement was voiced by the group with each response, the student minister refrained from comment.
          With his turn to respond approaching quickly, the 14-year-old boy became almost panicked. He was athletic and pretty good at most games involving a ball but definitely not as talented as some who had mentioned athletics. He had musical ability and had a solid record as a pianist but certainly not as advanced as others in the group in this area. He was well above average in the classroom, but he had a next-to-zero chance of being recognized as the valedictorian of his high school graduating class unless, of course, his class had only one student.
          As the student next to him completed his response, all eyes fell on this 14-year-old young man. Feeling like he was about to explode, the young man blurted out, “I guess…I guess my ability to get along with people.” The student minister smiled and wholeheartedly endorsed this young man’s personal observation by declaring, “That’s exactly right!” 
          Chapter 14 of Romans deals with principles of conscience that have relevance for relationships among Christians. Individual faith is in focus with the acceptability of eating meat for a follower of Christ being the specific and dividing issue among believers (vv. 19-23). Paul not only sought to offer clarity in this area, but he also desired to encourage purity and stability in Christian relationships.
          In similar fashion you and I need to establish and maintain purity and stability in Christian relationships by growing in our ability to “get along with people.” One way in which this goal can be accomplished is Refraining from Criticism. The term “criticism” can be defined as “the act of making judgment or the passing of unfavorable judgments.” Earlier, Paul had written “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another”
(Romans 14:13a). 
          Christians can “get along with people” by refraining from criticism. Someone once opined that a boy loves his dog because his dog is the only thing around the house that doesn’t find fault with him. Have you ever passed unfavorable judgment on someone else? I would guess that “yes” would be your honest answer since all of us are probably guilty. I’m quite sure that I am one of the world’s worst in this area. Perhaps you are your own worst critic, so you hold others to your standards. You expect a lot from yourself, so you expect a lot from others. If they fail to measure up to your estimation for them, you criticize. Maybe your judgments are not really unfavorable but rather you are simply supplying a critique…you know, “constructive” criticism for their benefit. Often, however, this critique comes across as criticism rather than as a helpful suggestion.

          One of the tragedies of war is the number of casualties caused by so-called “friendly fire.” How many people have you hurt by needless criticism and fault-finding? With much of the world given over to criticism, God’s people must be diligent to encourage one another. Rather than being critical because someone does not walk, talk, think, or act exactly like you, celebrate the differences while remembering that “…we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:10).

Dear Heavenly Father, May my actions and attitude enable me to “get along with people” as I strive to refrain from criticism in my relationship with others. May my positive and productive example serve as a witness for others. Amen.