Have you heard of a saying, “Remember the 3 C’s?” Maybe you heard them as Choice, Chance, Change or maybe as Crisp, Clear, Concise. When I first heard this saying, quite some time ago, it was “remember the 3 C’s, do not criticize, condemn or complain.” Ouch!
This is a quote from Dale Carnegie in one of his books, I can’t recall which one as I’d read several of them back in the day. The context of the quote was regarding relationships between friends, family, or coworkers. If you want to develop good, lasting relationships, do not do these three things. Makes sense, right?
Let’s do a Topical Study on these three words. I hope you like the King James Version, but if not, you can follow along in your favourite version.
The links below are to Blue Letter Bible, so you can see the Word of God as you read. There is no compensation from these links.
Do Not Criticize
Kinda stings a bit, eh? I think most of us are guilty of criticism. Let’s examine this word in light of the Word of God.
Turn with me to Romans 14:1-4 which speaks of the principle of conscience in believers, the mature believer with the strong faith will eat everything while another believer with a weaker faith will be reluctant to eat what he considers unacceptable. The mature believer should not criticize or pass judgment on the new believer. In verse 10 there is a question to each of the believers, to the one with the weaker faith, Paul says “Why do you judge your brother?” and to the more mature believer, Paul asks him, “Why do you despise your brother?” He’s not expecting an answer from them as he goes on to tell them that all of us, both weak and strong in faith, will stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Paul encourages the believers to not criticize each other, verse 13, but instead determine not to put a stumbling block in each other’s way. And again, in verse 12, each of us will have to give an account to God as He alone is judge. By all means, take the time to read the rest of the chapter for the whole context concerning choices in the light of salvation as some Jewish believers may have found it difficult to let go of their old practices regarding the Law. While we don’t live under the Mosaic Law today, if we examined our hearts, we just might find that we have a tiny bit of a self righteous attitude and in that, we criticize others for not living like us. Let’s check our motives and see if they are pure or evil.
Another verse to check out is found in Proverbs 27:11 which reminds the child to act with wisdom so that the parent, whose heart is glad when his child is applying what he has learned, would have an answer to anyone who criticizes him (the parent) regarding his parental discipline, (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Blue Letter Bible). So, from this we learn that there will be times when criticism deserves a response. It would be safe to add that the response should be one spoken in a kind and loving manner rather than return evil for evil.
The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 4:4 that others (Gentiles) who choose to live according to the flesh will abuse you with criticisms. Keep in mind that they will give an account to Him who is able to judge the quick and the dead, verse 5.
The take away from this verse, is we’re bound to have others criticize us and that’s between them and God, but as for us, we must not criticize others.
Do Not Condemn
Depending on the specific verse used, “condemn” can have several similar meanings according to Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words: declare wrong, to judge, to condemn, to consume wholly by burning, to judge against, to sentence adversely, to decide, to try, condemn or punish. So according to God, condemn can boil down to judge or punish.
Who do we know in Scriptures who was seemingly punished? Let’s examine Job for a bit. There are four verses to look at, Job 9:20, 10:2 and 15:6. In 9:20, Job says “my own mouth condemns me when I say I am perfect” and again in 10:2 when he says “I will say to God, do not condemn me but tell me what charges you have against me“. In Job 15:6, Job’s friend said to him “Your own mouth condemns you, not I, but you.” Then in Job 32:3, the three friends stopped talking to Job and once you read the whole context, you’ll see that the fourth friend, Elihu, had much to say when the three men condemned or judged Job. Much discussion had occurred in the previous chapters and Job was keeping silent as he considered himself right with God. The condemnation at this point, is a result of their opinion against one another. Agh! Why are we so hard on each other?
Another verse regarding “condemned” is in Matthew 12:7, Jesus had been speaking to the crowds and is now with the disciples walking through a corn field and since they were hungry, they plucked some ears of corn to eat. This isn’t wrong but it was done on the Sabbath and some Pharisees saw them and took them to task over it. At this point, Jesus begins to teach them about the Sabbath and reminds them of the time when David entered the temple to eat the consecrated bread that was intended only for the priests and also that the priests did a lot of work on the Sabbath in preparing the animals for sacrifice and this was not counted as a transgression. Jesus ends this teaching moment with a quote from Hosea 6:6 But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. Let’s always remember that we are children of the Most High God and He sees the heart and knows our thoughts. Judging or condemning each other is not our purpose. Our purpose is to edify and build each other up, not tear each other apart.
Do Not Complain
Oh, this one hits home, doesn’t it? Collins Dictionary defines it as “express resentment or displeasure.” Compare that with Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible words which defines it as “to weep, moan, to hold a controversy, to defend, to ponder, muse aloud.”
We read in Acts 25:7 that the Jewish priests made complaints against Paul to the new governor, Festus. Paul had been in prison under Felix’s rule and now with the new governor, the treatment he received from Felix continued under Festus. The priests, however, wanted Paul tried in Jerusalem but Festus refused and instead kept Paul in Caesarea. Paul defended himself before Festus and the crowd of priests who were standing around. As with all those who are on trial, Paul declared himself “Not Guilty” and then proceeded to state his reasons. This was not a case that Festus would give a verdict on but rather redirected the case to the emperor for a ruling. All because of the priests hating Paul so much that they brought complaints against him. Let this not be the case with us.
Another definition in the Bible for ‘complain’ is the word murmur or murmuring. I call it whine. Jude 1:16 says These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.
Jude writes about the dangers of ungodly men who are the enemies of the gospel. These men promote their own selfish ambitions for their own gain and have no regard for God as they have crept into the church unawares (something we should all be on guard against) and have caused discord with their whining and complaining with the purpose of overturning the church. Do we want to be known for being complainers?
I guess the most famous murmuring we can think of in the Old Testament is when the Israelites continually whined and complained to Moses. They complained because they had no water to drink, they had nothing good to eat, just manna, day in and day out, they complained when they had the gourmet pheasant dinner when they desired meat and because there was no variety to it, they constantly complained. A caution for us, I suppose, in that we shouldn’t complain. When you think about this part of history, these people are remembered for what? Complaining. Is that we want want to be known for? We may have in mind to overthrow the church but our complaints could cause division. Let’s be very careful what we say. Our words can set a forest on fire. Oh, be careful little tongue, what we say!
And the best for last, Paul teaches us in Philippians 2:14 to do all things without murmuring or complaining. That’s an easy one to remember, do ALL things, and what does ALL mean? Everything! Everything we do, do it without murmuring or complaining about it.
James says that the tongue is an unruly evil, for with it we bless God and we curse our brethren who are created in the image of God. Let’s think twice before we open our mouths to hurt others with our words. Once words are spoken they can never be taken back. We need to think first and carefully weigh our words before speaking.
The take away from this study on the 3 C’s is this:
- God is the Judge
- We all will stand before Him
- Criticism stands in the way of growing the other person’s faith
- Criticism is a stumbling block that others will trip over
- Criticism endangers the other person’s faith
- We must not condemn others OR ourselves with our speech
- Speak words of life not death
- Build up others, not tear down
- Instead of condemnation, extend mercy to others
- Complaints against other people are vindictive and cause problems for them
- We must not put others in the position of defending themselves
- While whining will get us immediate results, they will not be the best of what God intends for us
- Whining, murmuring and complaining is not a good reputation to be known for
- God sees our hearts and knows our thoughts
- Nothing is hid from God
- Be honest with ourselves
- Paul said to do ALL things without complaining.
- It is safe to include with Paul’s teaching, do not criticize, condemn or complain
Now, dear sisters. Can you remember a time when someone criticized you or judged you unfairly or complained about you to someone else? How did you respond to that? Is it something you can share about in a comment, below?
Is God speaking to you through this message? If so, would you like to share what He is teaching you? Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!