If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all. We have all heard this charge, either from a parent, a grandparent, or a teacher. But I would like to suggest that this sage advice does not go to the heart of the matter, which is our hearts!
So-called Influencers are paid to criticize perfect strangers’ fashion sense, clothing, home décor, life choices, and the food they choose to eat. YouTube and Instagram accounts gain massive fan bases by doing nothing creative. Their channel’s only purposes are to mock, judge, and point out the flaws and foibles of other Social Media Influencers.
They go to extraordinary lengths to use barbed humour to attack their victim. Unfortunately, their twisted humour attracts many, if the rapid growth of their channel Is any indication.
Just a guilty pleasure? What’s the big deal? Their victims will never know you are laughing with their accuser on the safe side of your anonymous scroll. If you don’t hit the like button, no one will ever know you were viewing, right? If you don’t say anything critical, it’s just your little secret, right? Wrong. No harm done, right? Wrong.
Your thought life is being poisoned whether or not you want to admit it. Your thought life is leaking out everywhere you go, even if you never say a word.
Those of you who know me know well, know my life verse. Philippians 4:8 – (NLT) – Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honourable, right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
If our minds are fixed on the goodness of God, and the goodness God brings through others along our path, then our minds will not have any room for judgmental or critical thoughts.
While James 2 speaks of the danger within the power of the tongue, there is always a thought that proceeds what comes out of our mouths. A slip of the tongue is nothing more than a thought leak. Whatever controls our thoughts will eventually control our tongues.
I am guilty of mindlessly scrolling through social media until subconscious critical thoughts bubble up to my awareness. I would never say those things to the people I silently critique as I scroll.
Case in point, I follow a wonderful sister in the Lord who writes beautifully and invites others to dive deep into the Word with her. One day, she posted a short video where she was perched on the top of a dryer, wearing a cute hat, perfectly torn jeans, and a trendy blouse. Her make-up was on point, a wonder, as she has four boys, a business, and a ministry! She was promoting a new Bible Study.
I felt disdain rise in my heart as I gazed at the staged photo. “What does this have to do with the Bible? How sad! She caved in to the ‘influencer’ mentality. Who in their right mind dresses like that to do laundry?” All these thoughts popped into my mind in rapid succession. I was horrified at my autopilot response. For all I knew, knowing this woman’s sense of humour, she probably staged that photo to show her fellow young moms the folly of comparing themselves to the staged world of Instagram.
I would never say anything negative about this woman of God, but on that day, bitter, judgmental thoughts poured out toward her. Even if she HAD decided the best place to preach a message from the Bible was on the edge of a washing machine, at least she was reading the Bible!
As I repented, I felt no condemnation, only conviction. The Lord challenged me to become intensely aware of my thought life as I went about my day. As I carry a prophetic gift, I believe even more so I must guard my thought life. If I am to speak what God is saying to me to the world around me, I better ensure that the space where those thoughts dwell is a place of peace, contentment, and humility, lacking presumption, jealousy or arrogance.
Whatever controls our thoughts will eventually control our tongues.
I feel the Lord say to those who call themselves Christ Followers. “Stop entertaining critical thoughts that you would never verbalize for fear of being seen as hateful. Hateful thoughts are as sinful as hateful deeds. Repent of thinking you have the right to judge others according to their appearance, weight, age, or socio-economic status. No matter how fleeting, every judgmental thought you have toward one of My beloved children is an offence to me, their Creator.”
Ask the Lord to interrupt your thought life for the next three days as you go about your day. Listen to His still, small voice. Make a note of every critical thought that comes to your mind and repent of it at once. Go the extra step. Ask God to reveal why that thought popped into your mind. What were you doing? What were you supposed to be doing? Be intentional in pulling out the roots of that toxic thought. Insecurity, Pride, Jealousy, Bitterness, Comparison, Arrogance, Self-Pity, and Boredom are some of the roots that might need to be pulled.
Of course, there are times you are called to speak hard truths. But speak those truths with a heart that is bathed and glistening in agape love. When you do need to speak those hard truths, do so with fear and trembling, remembering your words carry great power.
Bitter criticism, spoken or unspoken, born out of a sense of malice, pride, and arrogance, brings death to both our hearts and our target’s hearts. Our thought life directly changes the atmosphere we live in. So, change the atmosphere you live in today by meditating on Phil 4:8.
Until next week,
©2023 Katherine Walden