I bet you can finish the phrase in the title. Your mother probably gave you this advice early on. Mine did. “If you can’t say anything good, don’t say anything at all.” My favorite rock band even wrote a song about it. The application, at least in the song, was gossip. Obviously there are times when we have to speak of things that are not good. Really I’m doing that now. But the advice is good to live by and can be extended to all kinds of subjects.
Everyone’s a critic. I’m not exempting myself. My Twitter feed would make a liar of me if I tried. We delight in finding fault. Some people especially seem to have a radar for it. They’re ready to move in and start shooting the moment something shows up on their scope.
But we all have the tendency. We’re ever ready to point out someone else’s fault. We question every decision and every motivation. We’re sure that if we were in their place we would do better. It may be something we see on the news. It may be something that was done at work (guilty.) It may even be at church. Too often it is.
Sometimes we may even be right. Sometimes we should even point it out. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Why?” We may not even be conscious of our motivation unless we consider it. Is it our own insecurity? Is it pride or arrogance? If we’re going to point out something wrong, our purpose should be redemptive.
What if we changed our thinking? What if we started looking for what is good instead of evil, right instead of wrong? I think the content of our daily speech would change considerably. I think we would find ourselves happier people. Some of us would have a whole lot less to say, and the rest of us would enjoy the silence. Mom was right!
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.(Philippians 4:8 NASB)