With certain things, if you enjoy doing them, something is wrong. Among those
would be telling bad news, euthanizing a pet, and saying goodbye to a friend. Add criticism and correction to that list.
A well-traveled story tells of Jesse the town scoundrel who, after years of drunkenness and petty crime, finally made the decision to surrender his life to the Lord. After his baptism in a local Creek, someone asked him why he finally decided to change.
“Well,” Jesse said. “That new preacher came to see me.”
“Yeah, and what did he say?” the onlookers wanted to know.
“He told me I was a sinner headed straight to hell unless I repented,” the new Christian replied.
“Isn’t that the same thing dozens of preachers have told you?”
“Yeah,” Jesse said. “But when he said it, it sounded like it was breaking his heart.”
If you are a parent, a manager, a spouse, a friend, or breathing, you will at some point encounter someone who needs to be corrected. You are qualified to do that only if it breaks your heart.
The apostle Paul wrote of the importance of “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).
Some of us lean heavily toward the love part and avoid criticizing. During a dinner party, the hosts’ two little children entered the dining room totally nude and walked slowly around the table. The parents were so embarrassed that they pretended nothing was unusual. The guests didn’t want to offend and continued as if nothing extraordinary was happening. After circling the room, the children exited with one saying, “See, it really is vanishing cream!”
No, actually, it wasn’t. And somebody probably should tell them so.
Of course, some of us lean hard toward the truth side and want so badly to set things straight that feelings are forgotten. We may criticize freely and fiercely.
God’s way balances truth and love. Gordon McDonald is a preacher who met regularly with a mentor. One morning over breakfast his friend said, "Gordon, you're very good with people. And I'd like you to be even better." (Notice that he began with praise and expressed genuine concern for Gordon.)
"How's that?" Gordon asked.
From his pocket, the friend took breath mints. "These might make you a little easier to talk to," he said with a smile.
Truth. Shared with love. That might make what comes from our mouths sweeter for others - and make all of us easier to talk with.