The definition of criticize is to “find fault with”, or “to judge the merits and faults of; analyze and evaluate”.
Now, I am called to criticize and so are you. Acts 17:11 says, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true”. If you also want to be of noble character, then examine the Scriptures every day to see if what anyone says is true. If Paul were here today very few of us would doubt anything he said, however that is exactly what we are called to do.
If you find anything that a Church leader says to be not quite true, and you point it out, you will be branded a critic, as though it is a character fault, instead of a character virtue (which is what it really is).
There are those who I really admire whose opinion of me borders on hate, because I dare to be critical of what they say. You would think that they would be eternally grateful that I criticize their words, instead of resentful.
I have thought about this problem (yes it is a problem for anyone who is interested in the truth and only the truth) and of course the problem or character fault lies with the one being criticized and not with the critic.
If you criticize me, and you are correct, I can only gain from it. If you criticize me, and you are wrong, how does that affect me? That is not to say that it does not bother me to be criticized. After much thought I realized that it hurts my pride to be criticized. The problem really is mine. I know that I am not supposed to be prideful and I understand that there is nothing, except God, that I have any right to be proud of, but I am human and therefore flawed. So if you see anything or anywhere that what I say is not right then please criticize it. There is nothing that you can do for me that is more important, or more loving. If you are compelled to praise me then know this, there is nothing that you can do for me that can be more injurious. So don’t.
If you feel the urge to criticize me personally it might surprise you that I will agree with you no matter what you say. You see, I am not perfect, and because that is true I will agree with you. If you say I am stupid you are correct, however I am not perfectly stupid. If because I express what I think to be true, you say I am a “know it all”, you are correct, however I am not a perfect “know it all”. Pick your subject and I will agree with you. Short, ugly, stupid, old, anything, but I am not perfectly short, ugly, stupid, or old. Take your best shot and then let us really study why you think that I am wrong about something which I said. I really don’t care about what you think about me personally. I only care about the truth of what is said.
Take this country as an example. If I say this country is not a gift from God, and I point out Scripture which supports this view, and you think otherwise, then point out your supporting Scripture. I am not interested in your personal opinion if it is not based on God’s Word, and about this you should be the same as me. Perhaps I am wrong and it was God’s plan all along that man should rule himself, for that is what the plan of Democracy actually is.
There are a few other areas where it seems those whom I have been critical of will not apply Scripture. Wine is a good example. The Bible says, Rom 14:21&22, “It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves”. You would think the verse only applies to someone who thinks it acceptable to drink wine; however it applies to both views. The man who thinks it acceptable to drink wine approves it, and the one who thinks it is not acceptable approves of abstinence. There are many in this world that make their living in the business of making, transporting, selling and serving wine. Not obeying these Scriptures rolls a big obstacle in their path. But to consider this, first one must consider that he could be wrong, and wrong about something he really believes. This takes real humility and it doesn’t happen often.
Everyone, who is genuine in their desire to teach God’s word, wants to be correct in what they teach. The problem is everyone is flawed. So some part of what they teach is wrong. I think that is why God says we are not to be called ‘teacher’ (Mat 23:10). Just as the verse says, we have one Teacher, and that is Christ. If you can accept and remember that we are all students it should not bother us so much that we will not admit it when we find ourselves wrong about doctrine. If you think that you are a teacher, you might want to meditate on Mat 23:9&10 for a while.That is not to say it should not bother one to be wrong about doctrine. If we teach, even though we do not claim to be teachers, and we are wrong we may lead someone off the path, and that would be terrible.
If we are not critical it will lead to many problems and if you think I am wrong then look at the problems that the Catholic Church is facing.