Overcoming a Critical Spirit!
“Why do you criticize and pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you look down upon or despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. And so each of us shall give an account of himself – give an answer in reference to judgment – to God. Then let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another, but rather decide and endeavor never to put a stumbling block or an obstacle or a hindrance in the way of a brother.”
That scripture clearly tells us not to tear down our brothers and sisters through criticism or judgment, as this can pose a serious stumbling-block and cause irreparable damage to their faith. Among God’s warnings to us in scripture, there are none more somber or serious than His warning to not become a stumbling block to His followers. “…whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” Matthew 18:6
There’s an old saying that “We tend to judge others by their actions, and we judge ourselves by our intentions.” The truth is, we cannot rightly judge anyone else, because we do not know the contents of their heart. We should be content to judge only ourselves and seek to bring our own lives in alignment with God’s Word.
What Exactly is a Critical Spirit?
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 — it is always expressed face-to-face, never behind their back.
The person with a critical spirit usually dwells on the negative, seeks for flaws rather than good. They’re a complainer, very often upset, and generally have a problem or a complaint about something. They often have little control over their tongue, their temper, and have tendencies for gossip and slander.
What Causes a Critical Spirit?
- Negativity– A bad attitude and a negative view of life. A person may have unconfessed sin in their life or may harbor unforgiveness or bitterness toward someone who may have offended them.
- Insecurity– Criticism is often a subconscious means to “elevate one’s own self-image.” By putting others down, they are inwardly trying to feel more important or that “they know more.”
- Immaturity– Believers must always keep their focus upon Christ and His Word, not man, who will often fail. Criticism becomes a reaction of disappointment, because their expectations in others have been crushed.
The Bible says that the reason that we are to come together as a church is, not to criticize, but to “exhort” (encourage) one another. “Cursing the darkness” won’t change anything, but we must light a candle and “expose the light” of God’s Word. By sharing the truth of God’s Word, and encouraging people to live in its truth, people will change. Encouragement is a “motivational force.”
If we ever hope to bring improvement in others, we need to become people of encouragement. This is the only attitude that will change people, and our actions and words must be devoted to encouraging the spiritual progress of our brothers and sisters.
Prescription for a Healthy Mind
A number of years ago, Dr. David Harold Fink, a psychiatrist for the veteran’s administration, wrote an article where he outlined his research into the causes of mental and emotional disturbances.
From over 10,000 case studies, he discovered that there was a common trait with all his patients who suffered from severe tension. They were habitual faultfinders, constant critics of people and things around them. Those who were free from tension, were the least critical.
His conclusions were that the habit of fault-finding is a prelude or mark of the nervous, or the mentally unbalanced. Those who wish to retain good emotional and mental health, should learn to free themselves from a negative and critical attitude.
Remember this, the Bible doesn’t promise peace to those who dwell on the faults of others! It says that the Lord will keep them in perfect peace, whose minds are stayed on Him!