Many years ago, a person I knew very well, a man of God, called me up, and we decided to meet for lunch. Since he was staying near the Tajmahal Hotel, I thought we’d lunch there. But at the entrance to the grand old hotel, he put his arm on mine as he looked at the beggars outside and said, “Bob, do you mind if you could take me to a cheaper place, and you could give the difference you spend to these poor people?”
I immediately obliged. Not for a moment did I feel chastened, but was happy, his heart was for the poor and hungry in my country.
And then I open the Holy Book, and look at another scene. There is Jesus visiting the home of two sisters and one of them, Mary, opens a bottle of costly perfume, and anoints the Lord’s feet with it, “She should have spent that money for the poor!” said some who were around, but Jesus said, it was okay, and allowed the costly oil to be put on him.
I always wondered why Jesus did not join the others and criticize the woman after all His heart was also with the poor, but I believe Jesus went beyond the bottle of perfume, and saw the love and worship the woman had for him, and realized that, that kind of love needed to be encouraged, not criticized.
So often, in our self-righteousness or sometimes callousness we tend to criticize rather than appreciate. Our spouse has bought something costly for us, and instead of appreciating the love that went into the buying, we respond by saying grumpily, “You shouldn’t have spent so much money on it!”
We think we mean well, when we say such, but much damage is done.
Compare both the examples I’ve given. My friend could tell me that we could go together to a cheaper restaurant, because I hadn’t already spent the money on him, whereas Jesus, saw the woman had already purchased the bottle, and any criticism now, would break her heart, and he decided to appreciate her for her act.
Sometimes, strange as this may sound, there’s a thin line between criticism and appreciation, and we need to tread cautiously. It all comes down to hurting or not hurting the other person. I was not hurt when we went for lunch to a cheaper place and saw the delight in the poor, as the money was spent on them. Similarly, the woman’s heart must have cried a glorious hallelujah as her Lord accepted her costly offering, and thanked her in front of others.
Criticism or appreciation; let’s be careful which we choose to use, because oftimes we have to go beyond the gift or the act, and into the heart of the giver..!
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