Good Friday morning ...

Knowing what to do is easy ... when you don't have to do it!

Think about that for a moment. It's true, isn't it?

One of the interesting and aggravating phenomena of our time is the vocal critic with all the answers. You can hear them on the radio; you can read her in the columns of the newspaper; you can meet him in your workplace; you can certainly discover him on whatever social media platform you use; and sometimes you can sit across from her at a church function.

He always knows the way to go when he doesn't have to go there himself. She's the expert who pontificates on every conceivable issue and knows she is right. Free from having to follow through on a decision, he also feels free to make the decision for those who must bear the responsibility.

What a difference between the players on the field and the spectator in the stands! Isn't it odd that the bleacher quarterback never makes a mistake?

Don't misunderstand me to say that dissent is wrong. Dissent is important. It's the stuff of which our democracy is made; it's how we make decisions in the church, in the workplace, in any organization; it's how we flush out ideas and arrive at core values; it's how we debate the issues and come to consensus; it's how we make decisions that have value for everyone; it's how we evaluate divergent opinions and come to agreement. Dissent is not bad.

What is important is the dissenter’s spirit, his attitude, his motive. That's the thing! If it is to manipulate, it's wrong. if it's to control, it's not a good thing; if it's to dictate, it's off base.

The spirit of the critic should be sensitive to the burden of the decision borne by the one having to actually make it.

The spirit of the critic should be attempting to understand the opposing view.

The spirit of the critic should show compassion, not judgment.

The spirit of the critic should show mercy and love, not condemnation.

The spirit of the critic should look at the matter from the eyes of God, for God has the final say.

"Don't criticize, and then you won't be criticized. For others will treat you as you treat them. And why worry about a speck in the eye of a brother when you have a board in your own?"  [Matthew 7:1-3]

There are occasions when we run into an "alligator" (that's pastor talk for a snipping critic). So, we need to be reminded of how important the spirit of the critic really is. The voice, the tone, the motive of the critic is sometimes far more important than the words themselves. Let us be conscious of our critical spirits ... especially with our close relationships.