LET’S SAY I think one of the humans running for the most important job on the planet is a self-serving, sociopathic, xenophobic, narcissist.
Or maybe I think the politician is someone who will lie, cheat, and steal—basically say anything or do just about anything to win an election. Even perhaps to go so far as to collude with party officials who are supposed to be equally supportive of the candidates—to cheat an old Jew out of a fair hearing on the national stage.
So I go to a dear friend or family member who intends to vote for that sorry soul and I say,
“You could not possibly show worse political acumen. If you vote for this person, I will no longer trust your judgment or ask for your advice about anything that requires thinking at a level beyond Level 1 of Bloom’s Taxonomy of the six levels of thinking. And you will probably go straight to hell in a hand basket.”
Okay, let’s say I only think that.
But let’s say I try to speak the truth in love: “I really do think this is a mistake you’re making. And I believe this person will hurt a lot of people. Could we talk about this?”
Well, we could talk. But I doubt anyone would listen.
I have plenty of family and friends who will not be voting the way I will be voting. And I don’t feel free to talk with hardly any of them about it.
It’s too bad. If ever there was a vote that needed serious discussion among the voters, this is that vote.
I know why we can’t talk about it.
I see the reason in the Bible.
Listen to what happened when Paul said something that a crowd of Jews took as personal criticism.
Paul, in a synagogue in what is now Turkey:
“We had to bring God’s message to you Jews first. But now that you’ve trashed it and condemned yourself as unfit for eternal life, we’re going to take God’s message to everyone but you—to non-Jews”…. Jews incited a riot” (Acts 13:46, 50, Casual English Bible).
Paul, in a synagogue in the city of Corinth, Greece:
“I did everything I could to help you. From now on, I’ll be helping the non-Jews”…. the Jews eventually got so upset with Paul that they rallied together and took him to court” (Acts 18:6, 12, Casual English Bible).
Paul to a mob of angry Jews in Jerusalem:
“Jesus said, ‘Go…. I’m sending you far away—to people who are not Jews’”…. That last line was more than the Jewish crowd wanted to hear. They started yelling, “Death! He doesn’t deserve to live!” (Acts 22:21-22, Casual English Bible).
Here’s my takeaway when it comes to criticizing others: Nobody and his brother want to hear it.
There are exceptions. But in my experience, they are few and far between.
Most folks seem to take criticism as a poke, when what they want desperately is a stroke.
Silence may be a wise and healthy compromise.
Still, sometimes people you care about are doing the dumbest thing on earth, and your head will explode if you don’t say something.
In those cases, maybe it would help if we said it with ice cream and a Snickers bar.
For more about criticism
- How a Christian writer should handle complaints
- Fine art of criticizing
- Let’s pay someone a compliment today
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