Some Thoughts About Offering Criticism

by William Barclay

I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first” (Revelation 2:19).

There is something very interesting about this verse. The letter to the church at Thyatira is to be a letter of warning and of criticism, and yet it begins with a verse of undiluted praise. Here is something which every preacher and teacher, indeed every Christian, must learn. Real criticism must always encourage and never discourage. When we have reason to rebuke or to criticize anyone, we must make it clear that we are doing so, not because we dislike him, but because we like him; not because we hate him, but because love him; not because we think that he is useless, but because we think that he has it in him to be useful; not because we wish to hurt him, but because we wish to help him. That is why criticism will often be most effective when it begins with praise. It is wise to point out that which is good before we begin to seek to eradicate that which is evil.