Fault Finding

Text: I Thessalonians 5:11-18


I.         The golden rule - Romans 13:9-10

            A.        Much of our life is involved in relating to other people.

                        1.         We need the cooperation of others in so many ways.

                        2.         And so many people are just plain hard to get along with.

            B.        God’s laws are easily summed up in one little command to love your neighbor as yourself.

                        1.         Treat people the way you expect them to treat you

                        2.         But that is much easier said than done.

                        3.         We tend to give ourselves exceptions to the rule.

            C.        Criminals will justify themselves, no matter how heinous the crime

                        1.         In 1931 a dangerous criminal was captured in New York City in a large shootout. “Two Gun” Crowley was described as the most dangerous criminal apprehended. The police commissioner stated that “He will kill at the drop of a feather.” What lead to the shootout was that Crowley was snuggling with his girlfriend in a car on a country road on Long Island. A policeman approached the car and asked to see his license. Without a word Crowley pulled out a gun and shot the officer repeatedly. He then jumped out of the car took the officer’s gun and shot him again.

                                    a.         Nasty, heartless fellow? How did he see himself? “Under my coat is a weary heart, but a kind one that would do nobody harm.”

                                    b.         He was sentenced to death in an electric chair. Was there any remorse? “This is what I get for defending myself.”

                        2.         This is not unusual. Al Capone, the notorious public enemy number one, said, “I have spent the best years of my life giving people the lighter pleasures, helping them have a good time, and all I get is abuse, the existence of a hunted man.”

            D.        Dale Carnegie noted “People don’t criticize themselves for anything, no matter how wrong it may be.” - Psalms 36:1-4

II.        But people are quick to spot “wrong” in others

            A.        The Pharisees, having no love for Jesus or his followers, were quick to point out flaws - Mark 7:1-2

                        1.         That what was being done was not wrong by the law, just different from their traditions, did not enter their minds.

                        2.         But when dealing with people you usually are not dealing with creatures of logic but of emotions

                        3.         It is almost a matter of “don’t bother me with the facts, I’m mad!”

            B.        People criticize when they don’t have all the facts. They jump to conclusions which frequently turn out to be unfounded - Proverbs 25:8-10

                        1.         We need to try and understand people before rebuking them. Not just what they have done but also attempting to understand why.

                        2.         A Dr. Johnson once said, “God himself, sir, does not propose to judge man until the end of his days.”

                                    a.         By this he is referring to I Corinthians 4:5

                                    b.         We are so quick to reach conclusions when we don’t have all the facts.

            C.        They find fault even though no harm has been done them - Proverbs 3:30

            D.        But sorriest of all is a person who cannot see himself in another man’s shoes - Matthew 7:1-5

III.       The element that is missing is concern for our fellow man.

            A.        We want to tear down rather than work to build another up.

                        1.         There are things not worth fighting over - II Timothy 2:23-26

                                    a.         Notice the motivation - a concern for others and a desire to save them.

                        2.         A fool vents his feelings (NKJV) - Proverbs 29:11

            B.        “Father Forgets” by W. Livingston Larned

Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, "Goodbye, Daddy!" and I frowned, and said in reply, "Hold your shoulders back!"

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive — and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. "What is it you want?" I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding — this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is a feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: "He is nothing but a boy — a little boy!"

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother's arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.


            C.        Rebukes have their place, but far too often and with far too many people we fail to examine our motivation; we fail to consider what it is like to be on the receiving end; we don’t balance our words with praise; we don’t temper our words with love - I Corinthians 13:1-8

                        1.         I would rather be rebuked by the righteous - Psalm 141:5

                        2.         The wise have your best interest in mind, the fool finds it uplifting to bring another down - Ecclesiastes 7:5

                        3.         A friend loves his friend - Proverbs 27:6

                        4.         Rebuke without hate - Leviticus 19:17

IV.      How we say things matters

            A.        An approach that strives not to cause a quarrel - II Timothy 2:23-26

                        1.         Hans Seilye once said, “As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation.”

                        2.         We should realize that criticism encourages a person to justify themselves because it wounds their pride.

                                    a.         Now pride is not a good thing. It is something we all should battle.

                                    b.         We don’t want to be like the scoffer - Proverbs 9:8

                                    c.         Yet, when we approach another with a problem, we should be sensitive not to unnecessarily get another person’s dander up.

                                    d.         The goal is to get a person to do better, not to encourage him to entrench himself in his problem - Proverbs 15:32

            B.        “Hard Hats” by Dale Carnegie

George B. Johnston of Enid, Oklahoma, is the safety coordinator for an engineering company. One of his responsibilities is to see that employees wear their hard hats whenever they are on the job in the field. He reported that whenever he came across workers who were not wearing hard hats, he would tell them with a lot of authority of the regulation and that they must comply. As a result he would get sullen acceptance, and often after he left, the workers would remove the hats.He decided to try a different approach. The next time he found some of the workers not wearing their hard hat, he asked if the hats were uncomfortable or did not fit properly. Then he reminded the men in a pleasant tone of voice that the hat was designed to protect them from injury and suggested that it always be worn on the job. The result was increased compliance with the regulation with no resentment or emotional upset.

                        1.         The same goal was desired.

                        2.         A rebuke was delivered in both cases

                        3.         But the result was vastly different because the later method expressed concern for his fellow man.

                        4.         The earlier method only showed a concern for the rules and the coordinator looking good at his job.

            C.        Consider how our words are going to resonate in another - Colossians 4:5-6

V.        This is not to say rebukes are never given or that we should never cause another’s pride to be wounded.

            A.        There is a time and place for such things

            B.        But too often we wound, not because we think it the best way to handle this particular problem, but because we speak without thinking at all! - Proverbs 15:28

            C.        We make mistakes - James 3:2-5

                        1.         But we should not justify our mistakes to ourselves - Romans 12:3

            D.        When most of what comes out of mouths tears down, and almost nothing comes out that builds up – something is wrong!

                        1.         Pursue edification - Romans 14:19

                        2.         Please neighbors for his good - Romans 15:2

                        3.         No corrupt word - Ephesians 4:29

            E.        When nothing is offer that improves the person – something is wrong!

            F.        Edify and comfort - I Thessalonians 5:11-18