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Thomas More

I'm going to pass on the delicate balance of being a "useful friend" and commenting on a saint's butt size. There might not be a biblical passage explicitly affirming my reluctance, but I think the general gist of the Proverbs would have me refrain from any comment on such a topic--not due to concerns over lewdness mind you, but simply out of self preservation.

That said, as a general rule, we have the log/speck issue in the context--created much earlier--of the first "useless brother", Cain.

"Then the LORD said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" And he said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"

I think "Yes, you are" would be the response, but God cuts to the chase instead. Point being, we have a duty to love one another, which includes looking out for one another. Unfortunately, as you note, this gets judgmentally morphed into picking on one another to avoid our own problems.

The log/speck statement is not license to avoid "judging" but is a requirement to do it in the right way--with a pure heart towards your brother/sister (regardless of derriere size), for THEIR benefit, not your own. (It is a "judgment," in one sense, to think or say "Philo, that guy is not for you, or you should be reading this book, or wearing these pants, etc.--but not "judgmental", i.e., "I'm better than Philo, or Philo's no good because she..." ) Thus, we look for ways to help them have better lives, not to change them so that our lives will be better in our interactions with them.


Beth and Lucy might disagree with me, but I think women struggle more with this than men. We tend to be more hyper-critical of ourselves so we don't think we can deal with any more "truth". The problem is that the hyper-criticism isn't really "truth", so we shouldn't be afraid of hearing the real stuff.
A subject for another post, perhaps......

Thomas More

Interesting point. I don't know about the overall male/female split on this, but you're probably right. But, at the same time, I'd hold myself out as one who is hyper-self-critical. Maybe not in the same way as women, but there nonetheless. I don't find that it causes me to shy from "truth", but I do find a notable difference in helpful v. hurtful criticism--which goes to my comment, above.

The timing, manner, and reason we deliver criticism to others is important.

One problem that exists is that if we are shy about hearing the "truth" (because of self-criticism gone wild, ego, or whatever) our shyness projects itself, even non-verbally. As such, your (useless) friends might very well pick up on the feeling that you'd prefer not to be criticized right now. Therefore, we are best served by pro-actively inviting critique, especially on the bigger decisions "what do you think about me...?" I find this much more useful in my life. I tend to shy away from giving people unsolicited, free advice, as I'm worried it'll reduce our friendship, create hostility, etc. If they want my opinion, they'll ask, I assume. Plus, if you say "if you'd like my advice on ever wearing those jeans out in public again, just ask..." doesn't really get it done. Hence, I'm a big fan of surrounding yourself with good, wise people and then pressing them for advice.

I still take your point that if someone is walking off a cliff and not asking your advice, you should still give it--and I've done this in a few doozy situations. Once it had great effect, once it had none.

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