If you think criticising others is just exercising your right to free speech and it’s no big deal, stop and consider these three things:
(1) God saw it as a sin when Aaron and Miriam criticised Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman. He smote Miriam with leprosy, and Aaron was quick to repent, admitting they had sinned and acted foolishly. God healed Miriam, but not before she had been publicly embarrassed.
(2) A critical attitude will hurt you relationally. ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “…Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received again.”’ (Numbers 12:14 NKJV) Leprosy was contagious, and those who had it were isolated from others. There is an important lesson here. People will distance themselves from you and avoid you when you become known for a critical attitude. It’s a trust issue; they know if you talk to them about others, you will talk to others about them.
(3) A critical attitude hinders everybody’s progress. ‘So, Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again.’ (Numbers 12:15 NKJV) Have you ever been part of an organisation where one fault-finding person destroyed the effectiveness and hindered the entire group’s progress?
(4) A critical attitude hurts your relationship with God. ‘Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter Your presence on Your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbours or speak evil of their friends… Such people will stand firm forever.’ (Psalm 15:1–3, 5 NLT)