“One of the most difficult defilements of the spirit to deal with is the critical spirit. A critical spirit has its root in pride. Because of the ‘plank’ of pride in our own eye, we are not capable of dealing with the ‘speck’ of need in someone else. We are often like the Pharisee who, completely unconscious of his own need, prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not like other men” (Luke 18:11). We are quick to see – and to speak of – the faults of others, but slow to see our own needs. How sweetly we relish the opportunity to speak critically of someone else – even when we are unsure of the facts. We forge that “a man who stirs up dissension among brothers” by criticizing one to another is one of the “six things which the Lord hates” (Proverbs 6:16-19)” – Jerry Bridges
Jerry Bridges wrote this years ago. He founded the Navigators, an evangelical ministry that started in universities and campuses. As Mr Bridges passed away in 2016, I have no doubt he is part of the great cloud of witnesses, cheering on the current revival happening across campuses across the United States and many other nations.
Decades ago, Jerry reached out to other evangelical organizations across denominational lines. He received a lot of flack from people within his organization for doing so. By doing what Jerry felt was right, Navigators partnered with other short-term mission organizations to see a massive surge in getting the good news of Jesus as organizations worked together, reducing redundancy.
Because I ignore negativity and studiously avoid all people who slam other people or organisations, this sort of stuff Jerry mentions in the above quote rarely appears on my Social Media feeds. Why, you might ask? Simply because I refuse to read it. Social Media Platforms pay close attention to what you read and engage in their platforms. Thumbs up, thumbs down, happy faces, angry faces, approving comments and disapproving comments – all count the same in their eyes. My close friends know better than to send me any such article.
Why do you feel you have the right to publicly criticise somebody you don’t know well enough to know how to contact?
Therefore, I haven’t noticed the surge of negative and critical statements that others have told me that there seems to be a fresh wave of denominational leaders coming against other denominations, most of which is based on speculation. Some have gone as far as to say that the revival spreading across many campuses across the United States is not of God.
Many of these self-appointed judges make their decisions based on pure hearsay, not by reading an entire book or listening to several sermons by the person they’re slamming. Sound bites and video clips are so easily manipulated. Rather than taking time to watch a complete sermon or reading an entire book written by the object of their disdain, they feel the need to label the person or organisation as heretical. They go as far as to justify their slam by creating compilations of 10-second video clips taken completely out of context.
A little hint, if you don’t want to see such stuff on your timeline, don’t click and read it. Don’t converse with people who post such judgmental drivel, even if you are writing in defence of the person they are slamming. Please ignore it. Please don’t respond to it. You will see your timeline change as a result.
If you feel the need to suggest to the person they might want to rethink what they’re posting, please don’t do it on social media. Do it through email or private message apps that are not provided by the Social Media Platform on which you read the post. Only do so if that person has previously permitted you to speak into their lives because they know you and trust your character.
What relationship do you have with that person that would convince them you have their best interests at heart?
Perhaps you are protesting, but I don’t know how to reach this individual away from Social Media. May I gently ask you a question in response to that protest? Why do you feel you have the right to publicly criticise somebody you don’t know well enough to know how to contact? I’ll go one step further and ask another question. How do you know you have the right to speak a word of correction to anyone, especially over social media?￼What relationship do you have with that person that would convince them you have their best interests at heart?
Remember. Social Media platforms will give you what they think you are interested in. If you click on a link, even if you don’t respond to the post, those platforms will flood your feed with similar posts. Keep Philippians 4:8 in mind the next time you are tempted to enter the frenzy. “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Until next week,
©2023 Katherine Walden