|Good Morning Everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “Think for yourself”
Our Bible verse for today: “So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17 (Amplified Bible)
Our thought for today: “Have the courage to do the right thing.”
This morning I want to continue our discussion from yesterday regarding how criticism is sometimes used as a tool to control people’s actions. The prospect of being criticized can serve as a powerful inhibitor to doing what we know to be right. This is especially true in our society today. Paraphrasing what Congressman Dan Crenshaw explains in his book “Fortitude: American Resilience in the Era of Outrage”, ours is a culture that is defined by a sense of outrage and offense, and public shaming is a tool that is increasingly used to embarrass, silence, and control anyone who dares to disagree with the politically correct mindset. The criticism is often relentless and fierce. And, sadly, often effective.
Using the threat of public criticism and shaming as a tool to control others is not new, but it is getting worse. More than 100 years ago President Teddy Roosevelt offered some insight and encouragement for those who are willing to do what they know to be right, regardless of the criticism they will face for doing so. He said:
“It is not the critic that counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great devotion; who spends himself in a worthy cause, who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls, who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Please don’t misread or misunderstand what Roosevelt was saying there. He was not saying that those who offer criticism are cold and timid souls. Teddy Roosevelt himself had strong opinions on many subjects, and he was vocal about them. If he thought someone was wrong, he didn’t hesitate to say so. So, Teddy himself was often a critic. The cold and timid souls he was referring to were those who were so fearful of possibly being criticized that they attempted nothing. Or, if they did attempt to do the thing, once they encountered opposition or criticism they gave-up or changed course so that the criticism would stop. That’s what Roosevelt was arguing against.
In James 4:17 James was essentially urging us to take the time to evaluate situations, determine the right course of action, and then have the courage and boldness to do the thing you know to be right. Don’t make excuses for not doing it and don’t give-up once you’ve started doing it.
Let me also note that this devotional is not specifically about any one particular issue. Instead, it’s a general principle that I believe should be a basic way in which we practice our faith and live our lives. Pray, search the Scriptures, seek counsel, think deeply, make smart Biblically-informed decisions, and then have the courage to do the right thing, even if you might be criticized for it. Think for yourself and do the right thing.
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