DEAR BILLY GRAHAM: Our aunt takes great delight in criticizing others, and not just people she knows (probably including us), but also those she doesn’t know (like politicians and celebrities). It gets tiresome listening to her, but what can we do? She has always been like this. — D.Y.
DEAR D.Y.: No one likes to listen to someone who constantly criticizes others or endlessly complains about someone or something. The Bible is clear: “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure” (Philippians 2:14-15).
Why is your aunt like this? Often, I’ve found, people who constantly cut others down do so because it makes them feel superior. Others do it because they want to draw attention to themselves, showing how clever or intelligent they are. Still others think it gives them the right to tell others how to run their lives (although it doesn’t).
But whatever the reason, a critical, complaining spirit is wrong in the eyes of God. How can we love others (as God commands us to do) if we look down on them and constantly say negative things about them?
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How can we help them and encourage them if we cut ourselves off from them through our critical comments or unloving attitude? How can we be honest about our own sins if we’re preoccupied with the sins of others?
The Bible says, “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another.… Who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:11-12).
Pray for your aunt, that God will convict her of her critical attitude and cause her to repent and humble herself before Christ. Ask God also to give you an opportunity to confront her about this, lovingly but clearly.
And pray especially that your own life will reflect Christ and his love for others, no matter how imperfect they are.
Write “My Answer,” Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; or go to BillyGraham.org.
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