Comment, Complain, Critique, Contempt - The Subtle Steps to the Fires of Hell

You may have heard the following scripture from Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew:

‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.
— Matthew 5:21-24

You may have noticed there are four movements that Jesus highlights. I translated these four postures into the following four movements:

  1. Comment
  2. Complain
  3. Critique
  4. Contempt

Notice that anger/comment are nether good nor bad. We place values on the emotion anger, but really anger (like all emotions) is amoral, it is what you do with that anger that qualifies the anger. Comments are just that - amoral comments. Comments are observations and helpful for build relationships. For instance, "the meeting lasted 90 minutes." is a comment. 

Issues arise when we do not address comments and allow them to build up. At that point, we're stepping toward Complaining. Complaining is a subtle shift from Commenting. Complaints are Comments with qualifiers. Sticking with the example above: "The meeting lasted 90 minutes but should have been done in half as much time," is a complaint. 

 The look of contempt?

The look of contempt?

As complaints are left unchecked, they too can bundle up into critiques. Critiques are qualified comments with an evaluation. So you can see how "The meeting lasted 90 minutes but I could have run that meeting more efficiently so it would have only taken half the time." is a critique. It is nefarious to bundle complaints because they become the fuel for scathing critiques. 

Finally, critiques that are not addressed in healthy ways can build into Contempt. Contempt is that feeling that the other is worthless. The contemptuous might say, "that meeting was a waste of time and we should not have to ever attend another meeting and if I were in charge I would do it better." 

Once we arrive at contempt toward someone or something we have a very hard time coming back from it. The next post will give a suggestion on how we might move away from contempt. 

The above is an abridged version of a sermon delivered on 2/12/17 (listen here).