My friends, it is so easy to find fault; it takes neither brains nor heart.
There are many professed Christians who are all the time finding fault and criticising. They criticise the preaching, or the singing. The prayers will be either too long or too short, too loud, or not loud enough. They will find fault with the reading of the Word of God, or will say it was not the right portion. They will criticise the preacher. “I do not like his style,” they say. If you doubt what I say, listen to the people as they go out of a revival meeting, or any other religious gathering.
“What did you think of the preacher?” says one. “Well, I must confess I was disappointed. I did not like his manner. He was not graceful in his actions.” Another will say: “He was not logical; I like logic.” Or another: “He did not preach enough about repentance.” If a preacher does not go over every doctrine in every sermon people begin to find fault. They say: “There was too much repentance, and no Gospel; or, it was all Gospel, and no repentance.” “He spoke a great deal about justification, but he said nothing about sanctification.” So if a man does not go right through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, in one sermon, they at once proceed to criticise and find fault.
“The fact is,” says some one of this class, “the man did not touch my heart at all.” Some one else will say, “He was all heart and no head. I like a man to preach to my intellect.” Or, “He appeals too much to the will; he does not give enough prominence to the doctrine of election.” Or, again, “There is no backbone in his preaching; he does not lay sufficient stress on doctrine.” Or, “He is not eloquent;” and so on, and so on.
You may find hundreds of such fault-finders among professed Christians; but all their criticism will not lead one solitary soul to Christ. I never preached a sermon yet that I could not pick to pieces and find fault with. I feel that Jesus Christ ought to have a far better representative than I am. But I have lived long enough to discover that there is nothing perfect in this world. If you are to wait until you can find a perfect preacher, or perfect meetings, I am afraid you will have to wait till the millennium arrives. What we want is to be looking right up to Him. Let us get done with fault-finding. When I hear people talk in the way I have described, I say to them, “Come and do better yourself. Step up here and try what you can do.” My friends, it is so easy to find fault; it takes neither brains nor heart.
~ D.L. Moody, from “TO THE WORK! TO THE WORK!”
What are your thoughts about that? Although it might be risky to do so, I’ll tell you mine. And yes … I’m almost certain to sound defensive.
We’ve been in the ministry for seventeen years as of two days ago. My husband is the pastor; I am not. I cringe whenever someone refers to us as “the pastors,” because I am the pastor’s wife, not the pastor. My role is to serve him as he serves the church. I have failed often in that job, but I am constantly praying that God will help me to do better.
I’ve watched again and again as people have come into the church, loved it, rolled up their sleeves, worshiped with us, studied with us, worked side by side with us, prayed with us, taken meals with us, laughed with us, and sometimes cried with us. I’ve watched their enthusiasm when they agree with a decision my husband has made, and I’ve watched the varied reactions when they don’t. Some are mature enough in the Lord that they know their preferences won’t always make the cut. Those show patience, grace and acceptance when things go a different way than they’d like. But others become angry and combative. Either they challenge my husband (and the board) openly, or they begin a campaign behind the scenes, gathering fellow murmurers and nurturing disunity. And I sometimes wonder, Are they not reading God’s word?
“Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door” (James 5:9).
“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17)
“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned” (Titus 3:9-11).
I think for many critics and murmurers, they are simply disoriented. They’ve lost perspective. They have forgotten that democracy is an American concept, but not a Christian concept. And so they try to bring democracy into the church. “If we can just sway enough people to our side, we can rule by majority.” Not so. Not even remotely so. Christianity is a theocracy, and God is our King. And it doesn’t matter if 70 percent, or 90, or 99 percent of the people disagree with God’s clearly stated Word; it will stand for eternity. You can never legislate the truth away. But maybe that’s a blog post for another time.
I guess the reason why Moody’s words resonated so deeply with me is because I know so well the man that these occasional critics take their aim at. I see all those things that others do not have the opportunity to see. I know all the nights when he stays up late praying about a person he’s concerned with — someone God has laid heavily on his heart. I know how much it weighs on him when people are hurting, or when they’re beginning to wander to the edge of the fold, or when they’re being lured by the enticements of the world. I also know how often he shows grace to the ones who are grumbling against him, and the times he has known of the sins of someone, but not exposed them. Instead, he has prayed with and for that one. I’ve seen times when people have disagreed with a decision he’s made, and I know he could very easily make them see why he had to make it, but he refuses, because the doing so would expose the sin of someone. Instead, he takes the criticism and speaks not a word. Oh, those times I want so badly to set it all straight. I want to defend him; I want to spill the beans myself, if only so that people can see how godly his decision was, and how necessary. If you only knew how many times I’ve thought, When we all arrive in heaven, this will all make sense to people. They’ll see how they’ve misjudged him.
The critics don’t always consult with one another while they’re lining up, and so it’s sometimes a little humorous to hear the opposing complaints of back-to-back prophets. “You’re too community-minded,” one accused, and within a few weeks another said the opposite. “You’re not community-minded enough.” I still find that funny, in a sad way.
The truth is, my husband is just a man. He’s been called by God to shepherd all those who walk through our door, and to feed them big doses of the Word. That’s a daunting task, and one that absolutely none of his critics have ever tried to do. If he were pompous or flashy, brash or cocky, I might understand how he could be a lightning rod for criticism. But he’s the most humble man I know. He studies hard; prays much; pours over God’s Word so that he can represent Him well, and approaches the pulpit with utter humility. Those are some of the things I love the best about him.
To all those in our church who love unity more than their own preferences, who have the grace to submit on nonessential things, who understand the structure God has established in the church (which was all His idea, by the way) and who are willing to participate in that structure and share their spiritual gifts with the body, who serve Jesus with us, who pray for us, who believe the best in us, who overlook our faults instead of highlighting them, and who have demonstrated their love for us over and over — thank you. You have brought great joy to us, we love you deeply, and we are grateful to share this journey with you.
And to the critics, I would only echo Moody. “Come and do better yourself. Step up here and try what you can do. My friends, it is so easy to find fault; it takes neither brains nor heart.”