There is never an excuse for criticism. Never.
Oh, we have our excuses. We all do. We get together with a friend or two and somehow we always get around to talking about someone, be it a friend, parent, church elder, pastor. Perhaps we don't mean to be mean and at first we don't think we are; but we are.
We can justify anything. We can say that we are just stating facts. We can say that we were just passing on information for prayer purposes, but if we are willing to be honest, we know the truth. We were criticizing or gossiping just because we can, just because it is easy to do; easier than lifting people up. What we say might be truth but just because criticism is truth does not mean we have the right to speak against someone.
It's called a critical spirit and it belongs to our old nature. The more we participate in it the more we are dragged back to our old nature. The more we participate in it the less we look like Jesus. The more we participate the more we become an agent of destruction.
A critical spirit demonstrates a lack of love and reveals our distance from Jesus. The fact is, the closer we are to Jesus the more grace we show, the more we encourage and lift up, the more we choose to look past the faults of others to see what Jesus sees.
The biggest lie is, "I just want them to be all they can be". Yeah, that's why we are talking behind their back instead of to their face. That's not concern, it's hatred, or at least a form of it, when we speak words to destroy someone.
I have participated in critical talk because it is an easy thing to do; it takes very little effort to find faults. But I have always been convicted of my actions and words. That is when we have a choice, to repent and draw close to Jesus, or ignore it and grow further apart. I have watched a lot of people with a critical spirit go from a beautiful Christian to an ugly mal-formed creature that no one wants to be around.
What would Jesus do? What did Jesus do? Did he choose to destroy or restore? I think every word he spoke and every action he took demonstrated he but others ahead of himself because his desire was for them to be made complete. What are you doing with your words my brothers and sisters? What are those words doing, bringing life or death?
Here is a verse that should give you some guidance in the matter:
What right do you have to criticize someone else’s servants? Only their Lord can decide if they are doing right, and the Lord will make sure that they do right. (Romans 14:4, CEV)
As followers of Jesus our eyes are always on his example and our conviction is always from the Spirit. We are governed by the law of love which is Jesus. In every situation, every conversation, love must be the rule. Our words are to be seasoned with grace.
So when we get together with friends, refuse to go to that dark place. Bind that critical Spirit and make the choice to lift up instead of tear down. It's time to open the windows of our heart and allow a fresh wind to blow through, the wind of the Spirit. Renew your heart and mind in Christ, don't lie to yourself about this matter but instead be set free from the critical spirit.