Dr. David H. Fink, a psychiatrist for the Veterans Administration wrote an article where he published the results of 10,000 case studies on nervous tension.  He came to the conclusion that there was one common trait among all people who suffered from severe tension.  He says, “They were habitual fault finders.  A critical spirit is a prelude to being mentally imbalanced.”  Do you want to sign up for being mentally imbalanced?  I don’t.  Do you want to sign up for nervous tension?  I don’t.  Allow Jesus Christ to yank the plank.


Criticism is just like a yo-yo. Matthew 7:2 says, “For others will treat you as you treat them.  Whatever measure you use in judging others, it will be used to measure how you are judged.”


I throw criticism out and it comes back. And it hurts.  Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive you your sins.”  So, if I criticize you, abuse you, and critique you, then that same measure is coming back on me.  It’s the yo-yo effect.  So, if you want to get what you are giving, go ahead and give it.  Bring it on.  But, you do not want to feel the yo-yo hit you.  I don’t want to feel it either.  That’s why Jesus said that criticism is a highly infectious disease. 


Criticism is cold-blooded.  It’s a highly infectious disease.  A critical spirit is also blinding. When I am critical, and when I am consumed by criticism, I can’t really see the way God sees.  I can’t really see you.  I can’t understand that you matter to God.  I can’t really do that. Once we allow Jesus Christ to yank the plank out of our lives, once we allow him to take it out, we can see the mercy of God.  We have a vertical thing going on.  We see the mercy of God.


What is the mercy of God?  The mercy of God is simply not getting what we deserve. That’s mercy.  It’s not getting what we deserve. Matthew 5:7 says, “Blessed are the merciful.”  That means those who are receiving it and giving it.  The verse continues, “For they shall be shown mercy.”  I need mercy.  We all need it. The Gospel is mercy.  It’s not getting something we deserve. The Gospel simply means Good News.  So, are we consumed by criticism or are we giving good news?  Once the plank is yanked, I see the mercy of God. 


Then, I can extend the mercy of God.  I love this one.  I was blind.  Now that the plank has been yanked, I can see the mercy of God, vertically.  I’m not getting what I deserve. Because I am not getting what I deserve from God, I give them what God has given me.  Hebrews 3:13 says, “But encourage one another daily, as long as it’s called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”  Talk to people.   Just do a quick interview.


Say, “Tell me some things in your life that have changed the trajectory of your life.”


They will talk about words.  They will talk about things people have written down.  They will talk about events.  They will talk about gifts.  They will talk about quality time that people spent with them and they will say, “Those actions, those acts of mercy, changed my life.”


Once the plank is yanked, we have the opportunity to see the mercy of God – not getting what we deserve.  In turn, we can give that mercy to others.  We can use mercy to affirm and encourage our spouse, our children, our parents, others we come into contact with, and even those in authority over us.  We have an opportunity to put wind in their sails.  Encouragement can be like food.  We need food to survive, to live.  It nourishes us.  Encouragement and being positive and seeing the best in others does the same thing.


Think about this vertical part.  We see the mercy of God.  We don’t get what we deserve.  We don’t get it.  That’s mercy.  Because we are vertically right, then horizontally, as we relate to others, we can be right as well.  We can express mercy to others.  That vertical and horizontal mercy is from the cross.  The cross is the ultimate symbol, act and form of expression.  Vertical, horizontal, it’s all about the mercy of God. 


So as you look at your life ask yourself if you are living a loving life.  Are you truly expressing yourself the way Christ desires?  If you are, then you will yank the plank.

Taken from “Yank the Plank,” series Expresso Yourself, CreativePastors.com. Used by permission.


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