The idea for this post came to me while I was reading the reviews for a book on grammar. Ideas can come from the most unexpected places.
The comment in question was, and I quote: “I wanted to understand grammar, not the author’s philosophy of life. Waste of money!”
Since I found this comment among the comments of others who had bought and read the book – Grammar for a Full Life: How the Ways We Shape a Sentence Can Limit or Enlarge Us, I wondered why this commenter felt the need to be so critical and ugly with his comment. Had he read either the description for the book or the comments, he could have saved his money. But it did give me the idea for this post, so here we go.
Don’t be that guy
I sometimes tend to be critical, especially when watching the news. My critical side comes out around family and friends I am close to. I am not critical to the person I am critical about. But if the person I am speaking to is a fan or agrees with the person or issue I am being critical of, they could take offense.
I felt a bit offended by that “ouchy” comment above. Even though it was not directed at me, I somehow was included because I found the book title interesting and was thinking of buying the book – which is why I was reading the comments (most of which were positive). And actually, based on the title, I think the book was about exactly that, how our choice of words affects those hearing them or reading them as well as how they portray us.
Go for the Gold
So that brings us to the Golden Rule.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7:12 (NIV)
If I don’t like something, there are diplomatic ways of communicating displeasure or disappointment. I need to always be cognizant of that fact and put myself in the shoes of the recipient of my words – whether spoken or written.
Have you ever been the inadvertent recipient of a “dis?” A friend or acquaintance expressed their dislike, disgust, or displeasure about something that you like or participate in; not directly criticizing you, but your feelings were caught in the crossfire. I have been on the receiving end of that scenario, and probably on the giving end, unfortunately. I try to be diplomatic, but sometimes we just let our emotions get the better of us and we say things without thinking how it might affect those hearing our words.
Remember what Mama said – “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
I think the Golden Rule applies to our words just as much as to our actions. If I am always trying to apply the Golden Rule, I will employ critical thinking to avoid unnecessary critical utterances. No one likes being spoken down to, embarrassed, disrespected, even if it was done inadvertently. Sometimes that’s even worse, because we realize that the person wasn’t even thinking about how their words might affect the one hearing them.
You know who else knows our thoughts and hears our words? GOD! The Psalmist said:
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. Psalm 139:2 & 4 (ESV)
Remember, everything we do to others, is done to Him, the One we say we love.
The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40 (WEB)
Let’s Rephrase That
Sometimes when we are behind the veil of the internet or social media, we feel emboldened to “speak our mind” not taking into consideration that the readers beyond the veil are humans with feelings.
Another way to express the disappointment with the book above could have simply been “Not what I expected, my bad.” Or better yet just follow Mama’s advice.
Thinking about the verses above, if we are critical or rude to a brother or sister in Christ, we are critical or rude to Yeshua. If we are helpful and kind to a brother or sister in the Lord, we are helpful and kind to Yeshua. If we speak harshly to anyone in person or online, we are speaking harshly to Yeshua. Either action we take is done to Him.
It’s critically critical to not be critical.
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