Updated: May 16, 2022
Imagine that I throw a few cups of rice grains on the floor (it spreads all over the place), and I tell you to pick all the rice grains with chopsticks; would you be able to do it? Just as it is almost impossible to pick up every grain of rice and put it back into the cups, it is impossible to repair the damage done by speaking ill or gossiping about others.
The Bible says in Proverbs 18:21, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and he who loves it will eat its fruits." Our words can be constructive and empowering, but they can also be destructive and hurt deeply. Many do not believe it, but a word can hurt more than a slap, do more damage than physical damage, and leave scars that take much longer to heal than those on our bodies. Many do not realize the true power of words and use them carelessly and without responsibility. We have become experts in criticism. We criticize everything. We only see the flaws of others and emphasize them. For example, when we watch social media, it seems like our job is just one; to criticize (look at that ugly dress, look at her hair, he is doing it wrong, she is ugly, she looks fat, he looks dumb, does any of these comments sound familiar?) We rarely focus on the good things; we only highlight the negative things and do not think about the damage our words can do.
Why do we say things without measuring the impact those words would have on the person receiving them? Why do we say things we would not like to hear for ourselves? I think we do it because when we focus on the flaws and negative things of others, we do not have to acknowledge or focus on our flaws. Another reason that can drive us to criticize negatively and destructively is jealousy. We criticize because we envy and are jealous of what we see in others that we lack. It is a negative way to cope with our insecurities and feel better.
What is criticism? According to the dictionary, criticism is a judgment or discernment about something. It is to judge the qualities or defects of something or someone. We can be constructive critics, or we can be destructive critics. Constructive criticism is the one that proposes new solutions to the problems or defects that we present. Criticism arises when we have expectations about something or someone and those
expectations are not met or were met in a way that, according to us, was incorrect. We don't like to receive criticism, but we are quick to criticize others. God gave us the privilege to communicate with words, but are we making good use of them? I think the answer is No because the same mouth we use to pray and praise God; is the same we use to hurt or curse others.
Unfortunately, it does not end there, there is a much worse behavior adopted mainly by women, and it is much more destructive than criticism; that dangerous behavior is gossip. Gossip is one of the primary causes of division among groups, and it has painful effects on the victims. We all have been victims of gossip, and we have experienced its adverse ramifications. Gossip can destroy lives and can damage someone's reputation. The problem is when we do not stop gossip, we are encouraging it to keep on doing its damage. Every time we stay and listen to it, we play the devil's game.
What if the next time you feel that uncontrollable desire to criticize something, you stop and analyze what you are going to say; you look closely, and instead of focusing on the negative, you look for something positive to highlight. What if the next time you're in a group; and someone starts gossiping, you stop the person and end it there. By doing it, you will become an agent of change. Instead of criticizing how others handle situations or things in their lives, you should let your actions speak for you. You teach others with your testimony so that instead of doing it wrong, they begin to do them correctly. Lead by example, not by criticizing or condemning others.
You want a change in your job, church, school, home, family, and business; start being a change agent where you go. Be that flame that lights the wick and infects others until all those little flames together become a bigger flame. Be light in the midst of darkness. When you want your environment to change, the change must begin with you. Do not demand what you do not have, do not demand what you are not giving.
It is not time to be playing; it is time to get involved and commit ourselves to doing things right. I accept the challenge of being an Agent of Change. I invite you to be one too. If you say you are a Christian, Let it get noticed! Distinguish yourself, be different, and don't get carried away by the current. The change begins with you.