Guilty as sin! We as a society tend to judge, analyze, and evaluate various things. We can give a movie two thumbs up or two thumbs down. We can evaluate a person's attractiveness on a scale of one to ten. We also tend to make judgments about people. Is this being done with a critical spirit or a merciful spirit?
As much as 77% of everything we think is negative and counterproductive and works against us. People who grow up in an average household hear "No" or are told what they can't do more than 148,000 times by the time they reach age 18. Result: Unintentional negative programming. Shad Helmstetter in Homemade, Jan. , 1987.
A "critical spirit" is an obsessive attitude of criticism and fault-finding, which seeks to tear others down - not the same thing as what is sometimes called "constructive criticism". The only criticism that is ever constructive is that which is expressed in love to "build up", not to tear down. Constructive criticism is always expressed face-to-face, never behind a person's back. The person who demonstrates a critical spirit usually dwells on the negative, seeks for flaws, rather than good.
A critical spirit is destructive and harmful to our walk, witness, and our world. An unforgiving, unloving, and critical attitude toward another person will hinder our relationship with Christ. When we exercise a critical spirit, it is extremely harmful to our witness because the world is watching and listening to us. They will never be convinced that we serve a God of love, mercy, kindness and forgiveness. We must exhibit those traits in our lives if we are trying to reflect godliness in our character. A critical tongue causes damage and dissension within marriages, churches and workplaces and families. We ought to examine ourselves first before criticizing others.
As Christians, we must avoid the sin of being critical. We tend to speak destructive criticism in very subtle ways. We grumble, we complain, we become sarcastic. We talk about what we should have all the time. We talk about what someone else has that we don't have. When we talk in such negative ways, we run the risk of becoming more destructive in our relationships. We hurt and offend people that we love. When we talk critically all the time, we will hurt someone else. In the New Testament, it is called "judging one another". Friends, don't complain about each other. A far greater complaint could be lodged against you, you know. The Judge is standing just around the corner. James 5:9 (The Message)
Four ways to overcome a critical spirit are:
1. Stop walking through life like a whiner.
2. Work to see the positive in each situation and each person.
3. Trust that God wants to help you to overcome your critical behavior.
4. Teach others to be encouraging.
Make an effort to stop criticizing. Actually count how often you criticize your spouse, your children, your friends, your church, your leaders. You may be surprised to see how often you complain and grumble. Stop it for a week. See how much better your relationships will improve because you made a concerted effort to hold your tongue. Then for each time you wanted to say something negative or critical, speak something encouraging. Edify others. Don't tear them down.
Matthew 7, A Simple Guide for Behavior 1-5 "Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you,' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It's this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor (The Message).
Is there anyone in your life that you have judged wrongly? Ask God to forgive you today for the negative thoughts you have toward this individual. Even if this person has sinned we are not their judge. That is between them and God. We must concentrate on our relationship with the Lord. If you have ill feelings toward this person seek God today and ask Him to fill your heart with forgiveness and mercy for this person. Pray for the Holy Spirit to saturate your heart and mind today with love and understanding.