|(Photo courtesy of santabanta.com)|
When we take a look at our behavior, just how objective can we be? Is it possible to see our flaws without kicking into denial? I know it’s tough for me to face my shortcomings. I’ll only point the finger at myself today, but if you fit in the “rotten apple basket” with me, hop on in!
By all means, I do not want to get down on myself or beat myself up – I’ve done far too much of that through the years. But realistically taking stock of who I am, how I behave and how I influence others should be as common and acceptable to me as looking in the mirror to see if I somehow magically got my eyeliner on straight.
This is a gift we can pass on to our children, as well.
It’s not easy to take criticism, even when it’s constructive. And although it comes much too easy for us to be critical, it can be hard to do it constructively.
We never want to be caught playing the flattery game; flattery is insincere. But genuine compliments should be able to comfortably flow through our lips all the time.
Complaining and criticizing are snares we commonly fall into, sometimes not even aware we’re trapped there. They do nothing good for us or anyone else if they’re not constructive and they’re not said in love.
There are times when it’s appropriate to complain, but it’s not a hole we want to dig as a permanent dwelling place. When I order food in a restaurant and it arrives cold, I have a right to speak up, and I should. I’m most likely paying a steep price for that plate and it should come hot and fresh from the kitchen. But – things happen. When I complain, it should be respectfully and with grace.
If my friend swears in normal conversation and it disturbs me, I should be able to bring it up without pushing her away. If my demeanor is as offensive as her vocabulary, I have a problem, too.
All of this to pose the questions: How do we challenge and/or correct those we love? How do we build them up, even when what they’re doing is tearing us down or wearing us out?
And the bigger question: Do we tear down the very ones we love, building into them false beliefs about their own lack of value?
Ephesians 4:14-16 instructs us to speak the truth, but to do it in love.
Love isn’t always perceived. Many people have loved us over the years, but they didn’t display it in a way we recognized as love, and we missed it.
Truth spoken in love will convict, but when we, the listener, miss that ‘in love’ part, we’re not convicted, but embarrassed, shamed and beaten down.
We can’t always predict how those we’re speaking to will react. But respect won’t be extended to us when we don’t extend it to others.
We can make sure that what we say comes from a pure heart and is spoken in love, the best we know how – and we can always ask God to help us to do it better.
“Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” – Luke 6:31 (KJV)