Privately Criticizing Those You Publicly Praise


Social media has brought about many interesting phenomena. Some of them are quite irritating.

Someone can be privately critical of another person, but still praise that same person publicly. I've seen it happen. In South Africa we have a name for these types of people. They are called "bless you brothers". They bless you to your face and curse you behind your back. It is pharisaical, and this type of behaviour happens a lot more than we imagine or care to admit.

We shouldn't be surprised that people can be so duplicitous. As Proverbs 26:28 says:
"A lying tongue hates its victims,
and a flattering mouth works ruin."

Flatterers are selfish (and hateful) people. They use people for their own ends. They want to gain in private and they want to gain in public. They are not givers, but grabbers. But eventually they get found out, and their folly is evident to many (including the Lord).
Moreover, if you think your criticisms are private, often they are anything but. Your words can travel faster than your lips. 

With that said, Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 has always been particularly instructive to me: "Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others."

Sage advice. If you find out that someone has said something unkind about you, remember that you've probably done the same thing to others. Try not to take it too seriously, however upsetting the comments may be.

All of this is to say: 

Don't take too seriously public praise from others, because they might also, for some reason, think you're an idiot in private. Sure, re-tweet praise about yourself, but don't mistake that for true friendship. It is often a fast way to cheap friendship.

Don't take too seriously criticism from others, because you yourself have cursed others without really thinking too carefully about what you're saying.

You might think the person praising you publicly is your friend. But true friends rarely feel the need to publicly praise their friends. In fact, I have a few friends, and we'd rather make fun of each other than praise each other.

Nonetheless, I have found that public criticism has often done me far more good than public praise. I also have a great deal more respect for someone who is critical about me in both private and public. Because, unlike the person described above, at least they aren't a hypocrite (even if they are stupid).

Social media is not only a pretend world, but it is also sometimes a duplicitous world. That may sound over-the-top to call social media a big lie, but frequently I wonder if even that sentiment is not strong enough.


Pastor Mark Jones hopes certain people will read this post.