As someone who creates through words, there is no one more critical of my own writing than myself. I remember in high school when my friends would tell me I was a good writer. They would read something I had written and would praise me for how good it was, and I would always think that it wasn’t good enough. It had to be better. It could be better. I could do better. Even to this day, a friend will tell me what a great writer I am and sometimes I don’t believe it because I have this nagging voice in my head saying I’m not as good as I could be.
Sometimes we are our own worst critic and unnecessarily so. But there is a harsher critic, and she is our fellow woman.
They start out are girls who think that if you’re not chasing every boy who walks by then what kind of girl are you. And they are girls who aren’t boy crazy but who condemn those who are.
Then they grow into girls who think that girls who go to Christian universities are only looking for their MRS degree. And they are girls who think that girls who go to state schools are evil and unholy.
They grow up to be women who have worked and lived in one place their whole life who think women who like new challenges, a bit of risk taking and adventure, and having more than one job over a 10 or 20 year span are foolish. And they are women who like a challenge and that bit of risk who think women who have stayed in one place their whole life just like to play it safe, are boring, and simply don’t understand.
They are women who think that women who aren’t making a certain amount of money or not at that position in the work place are not that successful. And they are women who make enough just to be comfortable who think women who make six digits are only out to make six digits.
They are working moms who look down on stay-at-home moms for not doing anything with there life. And they are stay-at-home moms who look down on working moms for depriving their children of motherly affection and declare them to be bad mothers because they aren’t staying home with their kids.
Women are all too good at criticizing each other. We treat it almost like sport. To see who can find more to criticize about who.
The Ruth of the Bible is no stranger to the sport of criticism from her fellow woman. Some of the criticism she endured is laid out for us, but some of it you have to read between the lines to pick up on.
She was criticized for sticking with Naomi…by Naomi herself and I have no doubt by her family, friends and neighbors as well. Why would you come with me?
She was criticized for not seeking out a man and the security that would come with taking another husband after losing her first. After all, she would be provided for, given every necessity and earthly desire she could possibly want, and most likely have the opportunity to bear children. Would you remain unmarried for them?
She was criticized for leaving her homeland, the one place she had always known and probably loved, to be a comfort and support to the mother of the man she had loved. Everything. Her culture. Her family. Her memories. She was leaving it all for a nation that boasted in being the chosen people of the “one true God”—whatever that meant. She was leaving her people for a people who had a rap for being pretentious because they thought they were “chosen.” She was criticized from leaving the gods of her childhood and seeking the God of the Jews, the one true God. The God of said pretentious people. Your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. God back with her.
From her mother-in-law to her sister-in-law, from the people of her homeland and to the people of the Israelite nation. Who was in Ruth’s corner? No one. Even her late husband was probably rolling over in his grave at the prospect that she was going to the place he and his family had left and thought of as a desolate wasteland full of famine and grief. A place God had forsaken and brought famine down on.
There’s constructive criticism that comes from wisdom and experience. And then there’s criticism for the sport of it. It becomes a matter of how many flaws can I find in her so I can make esteem myself, elevate myself, put myself on a pedestal.
I think about the two women Paul specifically calls out in Philippians.
Euodia and Syntyche.
Two generally godly women who had served along side Paul and Clement but who were having some kind of disagreement. I have no idea what the disagreement was about. I’m not a Bible scholar or an expert in this matter, but I could almost guarantee that they were heavy into criticizing each other. Maybe for life decisions. Maybe for a matter that really had little significance to the outcome of the kingdom.
And as Paul pleaded with these women to agree, to put aside the criticism and work for His glory, I only ask to put aside whatever criticism you harbor to the woman next to you – your neighbor who God commanded you to love – and at the very least agree that glorifying God is the pursuit. But more…remember grace, love, kindness and compassion and put the fruits into practice.