In college I managed to pick up a smattering of knowledge of how God’s physical laws work, but I am here to tell you, in spite of anything you may learn about the laws of gravity, velocity, and mass: an ounce of criticism has more impact than a pound of encouragement.
I once participated in a Christian conference where the keynote speaker asserted his belief that we are creatures who take to heart anything negative, while discounting the positive feedback we get.
I had to admit that, in my own experience, he is absolutely right. I can easily have my day switched from sunshine to gloom by an unflattering remark.
We might express the tendency to feel the downward pull of criticism more powerfully than the uplift of encouragement in scientific terms by an equation: criticism is equal to or greater than encouragement squared. OR we could compare the critical comment with an aroma: The essence of eau de skunk lingers long after the fragrance of the most expensive perfume.
What foolish creatures we are to allow the smallest unflattering comment, no matter where it comes from, to outweigh the encouragement of even our loved ones.
It is important to resist so easily taking casual criticisms to heart, but an even more important consideration is my own responsibility to guard my words. If critical remarks are so powerful and heavy, I must be careful where I use them. I must not toss them casually, or even humorously, in any direction that may cause damage.
Since we are seldom fully aware of each others’ burdens and heartaches, I can’t always know who might be brought to her knees by the weight of a critical remark thoughtlessly added to her load. Rather than bear the responsibility for causing such pain, I hope I will remember to think twice before adding my teasing or even helpful criticism to someone’s day.
Don’t grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!James 5:9 (NIV)