1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Charity suffers long, and is kind; charity envies not; charity braggs not itself, is not puffed up,…
I. THE NATURE OF CENSORIOUSNESS. It consists of a disposition to think evil with respect to —
1. The state of others. It often shows itself in a disposition to think the worst of those about us, whether they are worldly men or Christians.
2. The qualities of others. It appears in a disposition to overlook their good qualities, or to make very little of them; or to make more of their ill qualities than is just; or to charge them with those ill qualities which they have not.
3. The actions or speech of others. This spirit discovers itself —
(1) In judging them to be guilty of evil actions without any evidence that constrains them to such a judgment (1 Timothy 6:4; Psalm 15:1-3; Proverbs 17:4).
(2) In a disposition to put the worst constructions on their actions. But here it may be inquired, "Wherein lies the evil of judging ill of others, since it is not true that all judging ill of others is unlawful? And where are the lines to be drawn? "To this I reply, that there are persons appointed on purpose to be judges, in civil societies, and in Churches, and that particular persons, in their private judgments of others, are not obliged to divest themselves of reason, that they may thus judge well of all. And therefore we are not forbidden to judge all persons where there is plain and clear evidence that they are justly chargeable with evil. But the evil of that judging wherein censoriousness consists, lies —
(a) In judging evil of others when evidence does not oblige to it, or in thinking ill of them when the case very well allows of thinking well of them (Proverbs 18:13).
(b) In a well-pleasedness in judging ill of others.
II. HOW A CENSORIOUS SPIRIT IS CONTRARY TO CHARITY.
1. It is contrary to love to our neighbour.
(1) We see that persons are very backward to judge evil of themselves. And, therefore, if they loved their neighbour as themselves, love would have the same tendency with respect to him.
(2) We see that persons are very backward to judge evil of those they love.
(3) We see, also, universally that where hatred and ill-will towards others most prevail, there a censorious spirit most prevails.
2. A censorious spirit manifests a proud spirit. And this, the context declares, is contrary to the spirit of charity.Conclusion: This subject —
1. Sternly reproves those who commonly take to themselves the liberty of speaking evil of others. How often does the Scripture condemn backbiting and evil-speaking! (Psalm 1:19, 20; Titus 3:1, 2; 1 Peter 2:1; Psalm 15:3).
2. Warns all against censoriousness, either by thinking or speaking evil of others, as they would be worthy of the name of Christians.
(1) How often, when the truth comes fully out, do things appear far better concerning others than at first we were ready to judge.
(2) How little occasion is there for us to pass our sentence on others. Our great concern is with ourselves (1 Corinthians 4:5).
(3) God has threatened, that if we are found censoriously judging and condemning others, we shall be condemned ourselves (Romans 2:3).
Parallel VersesKJV: Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,