True Criticism

PERHAPS there is nothing more startling to the ear, or which brings more quickly to the cheek a blush of pleasure or pain, than criticism. Criticism may be divided into three kinds. First, there is the criticism which is mere faultfinding or idle, often cruel gossip, failing to appreciate and commend the praiseworthy though perhaps feeble effort on the part of another. Then, there is the criticism which is prompted by the worst qualities of the human mind—envy, jealousy, greed, ingratitude, revenge, resentment, subtlety; in fact, by the whole brood of the so-called opposites of infinitely compassionate divine Love. These two phases of criticism never permit the searchlight of Truth to be thrown within one's own consciousness, as it is lovingly enjoined upon us to do in "Miscellaneous Writings" by Mary Baker Eddy (p. 355:20–23), but is always ready to direct it towards another.

But let us give thanks that there is another kind of criticism, which is wholesome, constructive, sustaining, and encouraging, and is based on the Love that "never faileth;" that "thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;" the love that feels and expresses sincere interest in another's gain and tender compassion for the contrite in heart; the love that impelled Jesus to criticize his host's harsh inward condemnation of the repentant woman. He said, "Simon, ... thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears." On another occasion the gentle words, "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more," did far more to bring about the redemption of the sinner than any severe criticism could possibly have done. The criticism of Jesus never caused a pang to the meek in heart; but that great lover of all mankind, who forgave even those who forced upon him the terrible ordeal of crucifixion, was scathing in his righteous criticism of the Pharisees, who were consciously sinning, calling them "whited sepulchres," and saying to the money-getters who sold doves in the temple, "Ye have made it a den of thieves." To the ignorant purpose, however, he was patiently lenient, saying to the impetuous Peter, "Satan hath desired to have you, .... but I have prayed for thee." It is related that when Jesus was on the cross and the sorrowing Peter gazed on him from afar, the Master looked with eyes filled with compassion on the one who had denied him mercilessly.

Loving Our Neighbors
August 9, 1924

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