Is A Critical Spirit Holding You Back?
"For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:2
Have you ever looked at someone, read something someone wrote, or heard something someone said and immediately began to pick that person apart, criticizing them harshly?
And if we aren't careful, we can begin to carry a critical spirit. It becomes a habit to be critical of our surroundings and the people in them.
We usually criticize other people to make ourselves feel better, smarter, or more attractive. Criticism is often driven by our own jealousy, insecurity, or need to be in control.
This doesn't mean that we aren't called to call other believers out in love when they are wrong or headed for destruction, but there is a different feeling in the heart when we are critical of someone verses concerned for someone.
Recently, the Holy Spirit revealed something to me that was life giving and life changing. I found myself being critical, in my heart, of some people in my life. I wasn't talking about them to anyone, but inside my spirit I was critical just the same.
The Lord spoke to me and asked, "How can you minister to women if you can't stop criticizing them?"
Whoa! My jaw dropped and my eyes widened. I gulped. He was right. Of course he was right. He is always right, and I began to ask myself that very question every time I found myself silently criticizing others.
Matthew 7:2 tells us that God will judge us just as harshly as we judge others. If that doesn't make us rethink how we criticize people, I am not sure what will.
I like to think I show love, mercy, grace and acceptance to those in my life. But my heart is still a work in progress. I started asking God to bring it to my attention each time I had a critical thought. Wow! It was pretty amazing. I didn't realize how much of my brain I had let criticism occupy.
I still battle thoughts I shouldn't have. I have to submit my thought life to God every single day. I can't control it on my own.
We all have faults. Every single one of us. None of us are perfect and never will be this side of heaven, but we can strive to be more and more like Jesus.
There aren't many occasions in the Bible where Jesus criticized people. One place that comes to mind is in Matthew 23.
Guess who he is criticizing? Religious leaders. People in ministry.
Constructive criticism can be a good thing. I like receiving it from people in my life that want to see me succeed. Maybe "like" is the wrong word. I don't think anyone likes hearing it, but it can be valuable. The kind of criticism I am referring to is coming from the wrong places in our hearts. It's fairly easy to pinpoint if we are trying to walk with Jesus. He will point it out to us and convict our hearts.
Recently, I made a comment to a friend about someone else, and it was critical in nature. The next day, I felt convicted and went back to my friend and apologized for what I had said. It didn't come from a good place in my heart, and I wanted to receive forgiveness from God and from my friend that I flippantly commented to about someone else.
I think we can miss the blessings and callings on our lives because we are busy criticizing people. Sometimes, the people we are criticizing are our blessings.
On the outside, we can appear clean and polished, but our insides tell a different story. Our hearts always tell the real story whether we like it or not.
I can't promise I will get it right 100% of the time, but I am now aware and can do something to change my thought process.
Whether you are in ministry or not, the takeaway is how can we successfully make something work when unhealthy criticism is in our hearts?
How can your marriage work if you are always criticizing your spouse?
How can your children become what God has called them to be if you are constantly criticizing them and what they are doing wrong?
How can your family relationships improve if criticism is always on your tongue?
How can we expect better relationships at work if we allow criticism to live in our hearts?
How can we expect to minister to people if we can't stop criticizing them?
Is there an area in your life where unhealthy criticism is living? It usually stems from jealousy, insecurity, anger, or us wanting our ways and not getting it.A few questions to ask yourself:
- Am I jealous of the person?
- Am I mad/upset that I am not getting my way?
- Is this person out of my control?
- Am I trying to compete with this person?
- Does this person make me feel insecure?
And obviously, ask the Lord to give you discernment. You may not like his answer, but he will give you one.
Thank you, God, for your guiding hand in our lives. Thank you for bringing to the surface things that you want out of our lives. Thank you for being faithful to answer us when we ask you. Thank you for allowing us to realize all the times we are critical when we shouldn't have been. We are all a work in progress, and we thank you for your grace and mercy as you mold our hearts to be more like Jesus.