Grandstand Experts

Bob Palmer
Starkville, Mississippi

In the sport of baseball, some outspoken fans expect every baseball team to have players who always get a hit and never make an error. The only problem is, you can't get those loud-mouth critics in the grandstand to lay down their hotdogs long enough to come onto the field and play.

Yes, its' easy to sit in the crowd as an observer and criticize those who are participating in the game. In football, the "armchair quarterback" has quite an advantage over the poor fellow whose team is behind and has its back to the wall on its own 10-yard line with time running out.

There's a lesson in this for the Christian. Every church seemly has its "team" and its "grandstand crowd." Some members are deeply involved. They take an active part in the work of the church. These Christians are likely to be seen at gospel meetings conducted by other congregations in their area. They are active in patiently teaching their friends and neighbors the gospel of Jesus Christ. In short, some members are not content to sit back and watch; they're always involved.

On the other hand, while some members are deeply involved, others merely watch like spectators in the bleachers ' But to hear them talk you would think they had all the answers. They would improve this and they would improve that. If they were in charge, the order of the services would be changed, the songs would be different and the preacher would be fired and a substitute put in his place. They don't like the decisions made by the elders or the way the Bible classes are being run. Yet, ask them to help and you get a quick "No!"

A song of a few years back seems appropriate here. It contained the following lyric, "Walk a mile in my shoes before you abuse, criticize, or accuse, walk a mile in my shoes." We all need to be careful not to criticize others until we have "walked a mile in their moccasins." Jesus condemned this kind of fault-finding when He said, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye" (Matt. 7:1-5).

Don't misunderstand me. Constructive criticism is always in order. Even as players on a team welcome helpful advise, so should Christians who are conscientiously serving the Lord. We all need constructive criticism. This type of criticism is aimed at helping one another become better people. When criticism is used properly, we will all greatly benefit from the criticism of others.

In addition, as you endeavor to criticize others because things aren't going the way you think they should, are you available to assist? When offered a job, are you willing to accept it? If not, then you have been a grandstand expert long enough. It is time you got into the game! He has the right to criticize who has the heart to help.

Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 11, p. 342
June 7, 1984