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Sentence Sermons (Christian Inspiration) #61 --- Criticism

Updated on March 23, 2011

Quotations on Criticism

A man's criticism is the revelation of his own character and not the measure of the degradation of the one that he criticizes. ... A knocker is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul and a sewer-soaked heart. He's got a backbone made out of jelly and glue, and where others have a heart he has a tumor of rotten principles.

—Billy Sunday, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., Nov. 11, 1917.

Criticism is an act of the vengeful proud, not of the humble Christian brother.

—James L. Baggott, Christian Index, Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 15, 1934.

If you turn the searchlight of truth upon yourself, you will not be so prone to criticize others for what you think are their defects.

—Phil Conley, The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss., Feb. 6, 1948.

The critical eye remains longest in ignorance.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., Aug. 30, 1908.

Over-indulgence in criticism leads to cynicism and cynicism is human bankruptcy.

—B.C. Forbes, Forbes Magazine, New York, N.Y., May 15, 1926.

Criticizing the faults of others is not a proper way to "rebuke with longsuffering" according to the Bible. Many a man thinks he is serving the Lord by criticizing others, when he is simply spoiling the air with a rotten disposition.

—A.J. Gearheard, The Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La., Sept. 21, 1924.

Ridicule is the lowest and most contemptible form of criticism. No smart, decent person will stoop to it.

—Gloria Young, Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, April 6, 1944.

There is the habit of unkind criticism by which many have been uselessly and needlessly wounded and discouraged. Why persist in such a joyless and irritating course as that?

—Thomas S. Potts, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., April 23, 1900.

A religion that makes a man critical of his fellows is generally a low grade of faith.

—Roy L. Smith, Christian Advocate, Chicago, Ill., Feb. 5, 1942.

Criticism is the compliment that envy pays to virtue.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., May 7, 1942.

The hallmark of a small mind is a spirit of jealousy and suspicion and carping criticism.

—Ernest C. Wareing, Western Christian Advocate, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 21, 1925.

Carping criticism is a swords with a double edge.

—Ernest C. Wareing, Western Christian Advocate, Cincinnati, Ohio, May 28, 1925.

Men would be less critical of others if they used the mirrors of introspection more.

—W.A. MacKenzie, Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, Fla., Oct. 30, 1922.

A chronic knocker should have his heart values reground.

—W.A. MacKenzie, The Leesburg Morning Commercial, Leesburg, Fla., Jan. 22, 1927.

A knock is a criticism out on a dark night with its headlights off.

—W.A. MacKenzie, The Leesburg Morning Commercial, Leesburg, Fla., Feb. 4, 1927.

An egotistical man is usually the most critical. If one looks after his job in a satisfactory manner and concentrates on the cure of his own faults he will be too busy to do much criticizing.

—Grove H. Patterson, Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee, Wis., May 18, 1931.

To criticize is easy. It requires no scholarship, no industry, no great labor to become an unmerciful critic. The smallest man can point out faults in the greatest. Small people often indulge in this kind of dealing with their brethren. Perhaps they are peculiarly tempted to do so by their very smallness. They have done nothing to enlarge themselves, and look with jealous eye on everyone who has labored to develop his resources. To see others outstripping them in the race torments them.

Christian Advocate, New York, N.Y., Oct. 11, 1900.

Criticism seems to be one of the most pronounced activities of many people. However, criticism is not always a vice. It is sometimes necessary to criticize certain objectives, situations, groups, etc., but only as that criticism is constructive is it of any benefit. The trouble with most of our criticism is that it is not constructive and it is often motivated by ulterior motives. In other words, the reason for criticism is something that lies within us. Have you ever thought of that? When you feel inclined to criticize ask yourself the reason for the criticism, and decide whether you actually feel that you can help the other person gain more happiness or avoid difficulty which might befall him if he continues in his activities, or is it possible that you see yourself mirrored in him, or would like to be in his place? Constant criticism of other people is usually related to some kind of frustration (frustration meaning failing to attain; thwarted; prevented from accomplishing something). What is it that you feel inwardly disturbed over that causes you to feel satisfaction when you criticize others? Spreading gossip gives some people a sense of superiority and is often a sign that they have not been successful in achieving self-esteem by more desirable means.

As we have already mentioned, criticism is not always bad, but if you make your friend feel that you disapprove of HIM when you disapprove of what he does, then you will lose him as a friend. It isn't worthwhile to make a person feel little or unworthy. If he is your friend, he must have many good qualities or you would not like him or seek his company.

If we indulge in the very common habit of depreciating others, we must realize that it is more harmful to ourselves than to the subjects of the disparagement, because it fills one's mind with discord, it embitters and deprives the critical one of the good will of others.

Envy is often at the root of criticism. We are told that envy looks to the injury of another by wishing he were less fortunate in some possession, and seeking means of depriving him of it. The envious man is upset, not because he is afraid of losing something that belongs to him, but because he sees someone else apparently better off than himself.

Envy equalizes by tearing down or achieves its end by reducing others, if it can, to a lower level than one's own. This of course is not really true, because envy is primarily an attitude of the mind, but it tends to give the possessor a mental sickness that can only be cured, it would appear, by trying to level off the real or imaginary advantages of others. There is a tendency to rejoice in the humiliation of the successful, or the embarrassment of others. Both jealousy and envy attitudes spring from the same thought, namely, that one is being deprived or is in danger of being deprived of something that strikes his pride.

Watch the envious person. One of the most familiar evidences is the tendency to engage in small criticism and in the inability to give unqualified praise. "Catty" remarks, such as "She dresses very well, but have you noticed she always wears the same clothes?" are examples of this.

Then there is the practice of belittling the success or the importance of others, particularly those whom we have known personally and in more humble circumstances.

There has been failure in many good projects and even in worthy groups because of the meanness of spirit and the critical attitudes of those within the group who will not allow the development of outstanding leadership but devote their energies to the task of belittling evidences of promise and superiority, or even in suggesting dubious motives to those who attempt to lead the way to higher things. People who do these things lack vision and largeness of view. They are interested only in their own advancement, security, reputation and perhaps wealth.

Think over these ideas carefully. If you find it difficult to enjoy your friend, search yourself first. If you discover in your group that there is friction, look to yourself first. It is possible that if you can encounter one word of criticism with a kindly remark or a suggestion in favor of the criticized one, that it will act as a leaven. Suppose that each time someone was criticized that you found a kind remark to make.

—Mabel Martin Nalder, Central Atlantic States Mission Letter, Roanoke, Va., June 20, 1953.

Personal criticism is a dead weight which limits our achievements. The real reason why some people do not have their prayers answered, or find their true place in life, is that they constantly indulge in personal criticism--either mental, or by the spoken word.

Here is the infallible test of your spiritual progress! How fast are you overcoming personal criticism? If you are not trying to get rid of this, you need not expect health, happiness, or freedom!

This does not mean that you are not to exercise discrimination. Wise discrimination is an expression of divine intelligence. We must distinguish between good quality and poor quality everywhere! We must distinguish between wisdom and stupidity, truth and error! Really, it is our first duty to do this!

We must distinguish truth from error all day long, separating the sheep from the goats, if we are to be true witnesses of God.

However, this is obviously quite a different thing from personal criticism.

Criticizing persons is one way to become unpopular! No one wants to associate with a person who constantly criticizes another person. He makes you think that suddenly you may become the victim of his attack, and so you avoid him!

A criticizer does not see a particular wrong to be righted, but rather a particular person to be blasted. Follow this practice, and you walk alone!

—Carlysle H. Holcomb, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Feb. 16, 1952.

To be a critic is the easiest thing in the world. The most difficult task is to be a constructive critic. Anyone can find something to praise. Few see the wrong and commit themselves to correct it. If we were paid for our criticism, everyone would be rich. If we were paid for our constructive effort, very few would be wealthy.

Criticism is easy because it is judgment without involvement. It is the misuse of privilege; that is, the taking of privilege without the acceptance of responsibility. Constructive or helpful criticism says, "Here is a problem. I'll get involved to see it solved." Criticism differs from constructive criticism in its egotism. The uninvolved critic always supposes he could have done better. Things would never have gotten into that mess if he had been in charge. In contrast, the constructive critic sees the task and the difficulties that are inherent within it. Even so, he realizes that he was not chosen for the task. But--he can help! Here is the essential difference in critics. Some are sidewalk superintendents who shout directions and corrections. Others get down into the pit and begin to lift.

The constructive critic must be humble. He has to be whether he likes to be or not. When he enters the pit of the problem some of the dirt always gets on him. He concerned primarily with what people will think, musing whether he is innocent or guilty. He knows that love does not waste its time fixing blame. Love is too buy fixing what's wrong.

—Browning Ware, Beaumont Enterprise, Beaumont, Texas, June 30, 1967.

We should avoid criticism. Speak good when you find it right, but don’t criticize unless it be in the kindliest spirit; rather than censure my brethren and sisters to injury, I would have my tongue cut from my mouth. Instead of finding fault, bid them godspeed upon their efforts, but don’t stand in the way of others doing good; don’t do it.

—Karl G. Maeser, Deseret Evening News, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 21, 1892.

One of the severest tests to which Christian men and women may be subjected is unjust criticism. Nothing but the unfailing grace of God possessed by those who dwell in His presence enable them to meet it in the spirit of the Master.

In facing and handling criticism, in the proper way, we must be able to analyze the elements in such criticism. What is the object of the criticism? It may be directed an individual, or it may be intended to effect a great cause. What is the motive of the spirit in which it is made? It may be intended to help or it may be designed to destroy. It may be either sincere or sinister. What about its methods? It may be sympathetic and constructive, or it may, by insinuation and suspicion, inflict a mortal wound. With the manifest devotion of a true counsellor it may point out the defects which need to be remedied or faults which should be eliminated, and thus prove a genuine and unaffected interest. Or, instead of making an open and frank attack, it may in the guise of a friend, profess its admiration for an individual or an institution, then by interrogation points besmirch a fair name or a noble record. Who offers the criticism? One who is known as the friend of every good cause, whose works and words are a perennial inspiration to the discouraged and distressed and at the same time a rebuke to sinners; or one who is constantly disturbing the forces of righteousness and who is pleased most when he has precipitated strife? In any proper appraisal of criticism we must take into account the origin, the object, the motive, the method.

There are occasions, therefore, when criticism cannot be ignored, but is to be given proper attention; there are other occasions when it does not deserve to be dignified by any recognition. It goes without saying that helpful criticism is always to be respected. We have in mind rather criticism which tends to tear down and destroy. We must be governed by circumstances, keeping in mind the fact that a cause is greater than an individual, and that subordinate our own interests to the highest interests of the work to which we have dedicated our lives. ...

What was Christ's attitude towards criticism? Was He always indifferent to criticism? Was He always silent? There were times when He gave no answer. ... In His earthly ministry we have the record in the Gospels that He did not ignore criticism. He used such occasions to teach great lessons, to advance the Kingdom of God, to reveal His mission. ... Each time he met false charges with the truth. If the occasion required He denounced as a righteous judge, His criticism, the Pharisees and Scribes who sought at every turn to entrap Him. ...

In His earthly ministry, as revealed in the Gospels, and in His heavenly life, revealed in the book of Revelation, the wrath of the lamb as well as the love of God is pictured. ... Let us be sure, then, in meeting criticism, that we have the spirit of Christ. Let us have His love. Let us have His indignation also. Let us take care of the great tasks which He has committed to our hands.

—E.C. Routh, Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, Dec. 22, 1921.

A woman writes, "How can I learn to accept criticism? I have a neighbor who is extremely jealous of me. She is capable but has not received very much recognition. I find myself beginning to despise her and I know this is wrong."

Criticism can be helpful or it can be harmful. Like most people who serve others, I am frequently the target of criticism. I have learned to accept criticism and quickly analyze it; use it if I can, and put it out of my mind if it is vicious.

I learned a long time ago that to despise or to hold a grudge against another is harmful to physical health and happiness and also places the soul in jeopardy. We must constantly guard against a growing mountain of resentment toward even a malicious critic.

I know a minister who lives in another state. He became the object of malicious criticism. As a result he left his church and almost lost his health. He let both the unfounded criticism and the critic get under his skin. After the experience was over he emerged a stronger man and found greater opportunities of service. The critic was left behind to live in a little world of jealousy and misery.

The minister said, "It was foolish of me to let this bit of criticism almost destroy me."

First, examine the source of criticism. It may come from some person who needs attention. The criticism may be directed toward you but the aim is to draw attention to the critic. Everyone needs to feel wanted and important. The only way some people can attain the feeling of being important is to point out the faults of others.

Second, remember that people criticize because they do not know all the facts. Some people have a way of wagging their tongues before the brain is in motion.

Third, do not stop working because someone finds fault with what you do. The greatest mistake of all is the mistake of not doing anything. In spite of what others say, do your best. You are responsible for your own deeds and not what others say about you. When we look at history a casual observer will recognize that those who have lived on the mountaintop of victory are the workers and not the critics.

Finally, do all within your power to make a friend out of your critic. This is not impossible. Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13.)

—Robert V. Ozment, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., April 6, 1961.

I guess we all have the ability to criticize tucked away in our little bag of talents. There is something about the art of constructive criticism. Without it, we could not make progress. Someone must point out the flaws in government before we will ever have a better government. Defects of character must be recognized before they can be corrected. Imperfections in life, as well as in institutions, must be brought to light before they can be improved. There is something akin to virtue in genuine criticism motivated by the desire to amend and improve.

Criticism can be a weapon of destruction or it can be a tool for building. It can stifle your efforts or it can spur you on to greater achievements. Criticism can serve or injure; it depends on you. There are really two kinds of criticism. Let us have a look at them.

First, there is malicious criticism. The motivating force behind this is to destroy, hurt and injure. It has its roots in jealousy, revenge and envy.

Don't run from this type of criticism. Even an enemy could point out some of our faults. Do yourself a favor and do something to correct the faults he uncovers. If the criticism offered by your critic is unjustified, pay no attention to them.

Second, there is constructive criticism. The motivating force behind this is to build, perfect and help. It has its roots in love, friendship and concern. Accept this type of criticism gladly and use it as a stepping stone to a better life. Keep in mind that your best friend may be your greatest critic.

Some people have eyes only for the flaws and mistakes of life. That is a pity, but nevertheless it is true. They cannot see the beautiful rose for the thorns. They miss the rainbow because they see only the storm. They are quick to focus attention on your errors, yet they fail to see your accomplishments. Don't resent such persons. They need your sympathy. Some people do not know the art of criticism. They blunder and stumble at this point. Once a student of Whistler brought a picture to him and asked him to criticize it. It was a picture of a woman holding a candle. The master criticized it with the skill of a master critic: "How beautifully you have painted the candle!"

Gladstone must have been right when he said, "Censure and criticism never hurt anybody. If false, they can't hurt you unless you are wanting in manly they show a man his weak points and forewarn him against failure and trouble." Use criticism much like a surgeon uses his scalpel. He cuts away the defective parts of the human body.

—Robert V. Ozment, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 25, 1962.

There is nothing so promotive of criticism and false accusation, so impelling to seeing another in wrong light, than envy. One's self-conscious inability to do that which he would like to do, and which he sees another do, or one's neglect to apply himself to the accomplishment of things done by another, creates in the heart an innate jealousy, so subtle that it is not always realized by the jealous one. This very naturally impels to a minimizing of the deeds wrought by genius and industry. This wrong and sinful attitude of mind is in reality only a form of hate. Indeed, when we realize this terrible trait of human character we find that dislike if but a mild form of hate, just as even a friendly thought is a mild form of love. One either loves or hates; it is only a matter of degree. So that we should realize that when we are criticizing adversely, when we are minimizing the works of another, when we by word or deed belittle another's efforts, we are simply to the extent of such criticism or minimization, manifesting hate--the darkest passion that ever stirred the heart of man. The Apostle tells us that "God is Love." (1 John 4:8.) This makes it certain that when one hates he is at absolute variance with his God; he is an enemy to all that is good. Whether he realizes it or not, he is cooperating with the legions of darkness and destruction.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Oct. 31, 1915.


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