Sometimes, it’s just none of your business …

Living in a country that is the world’s shining example of freedom, we have often stretched the idea of freedom to mean we are entitled to have opinions about everything and everyone.

But that’s a stretch.

While we have the freedom to think anything we want, we aren’t entitled to create opinions about people that, if truth be told, put us in the position as acting as their judge.

That point reminds me of a story about John Wesley, who was an English preacher in the 1700’s. Not unlike many preachers today, Wesley was considered to be a spiffy dresser. One Sunday morning he wore a bow tie that had long ribbons that hung downward. After the sermon was over a lady walked up to him and asked, “Brother Wesley, are you open to some criticism?”

He responded, “I guess so. What would you like to criticize?”

The lady answered, “The ribbons on your tie are entirely too long and inappropriate for a man of God!” She then removed a pair of scissors from her purse and cut off the ribbons.

A hush fell over the people standing there as Wesley calmly asked, “Now may I borrow the scissors for a moment?”

As she handed the scissors to him, Wesley asked, “Ma’am, are you open to some criticism?”

“Well, I suppose I am,” the woman replied.

Wesley then said, “Alright then, please stick out your tongue …”

There is a time and place for — and genuine value in — constructive criticism, but let’s be honest, much of the criticism offered today isn’t constructive and isn’t offered in the spirit of a positive contribution. Instead, it’s often nothing less than a personal judgment, an opinion built entirely on what someone personally likes and doesn’t like and nothing more.

I recently had someone approach me about something they didn’t like about their pastor. Their opinion didn’t have any biblical basis for developing such a critical stance about this minister, but this person thought he was entitled to think the way he did.

He wasn’t. He was playing judge, and not by God’s righteous standards.

The next time you feel the urge to toss out criticism, think about these biblical instructions …

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them,” Ephesians 4:29.

“Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor?” James 4:11-12.

So if you don’t like the tie your preacher is wearing — or the fact that he doesn’t wear one — remember this: it really isn’t any of your business!