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The Critical Spirit

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*** Writer's note I never write from a position of superiority. As I hope God ministers to you, He does to me as I write. I find myself fighting the urge within me to be critical as well. I try to maintain The Apostle Paul's perspective - of these, I am the least. Blessings to all. ***

The Critical Spirit

Romans 14: 10-13: You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.' "So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.

There is an old saying: "We tend to judge others by their actions, and we judge ourselves by our intentions." While the world is famous for this mantra, the church also finds itself susceptible to the critical spirit. We all know the critical spirit. That brother or sister who seems intent on finding a cloud in every silver lining. Who finds it easier to apply the Word of God to the lives of others than their own. Who deals with matters of the faults of others, perhaps even questioning the salvation of others, and who finds reasons to tear down rather than build up. This is the person who can destroy a church from the inside out, criticizing matters God has not put them in charge of, with little insight into the matters to which they speak so freely. Criticizing the Pastor, ministry leaders, or the direction they feel the church might be heading in. Criticizing others, even friends or neighbors. It is important to define the critical spirit, to understand it, and to remedy it. Because the truth is we are all susceptible at times to having a critical spirit.


The dictionary defines criticism as:


The act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.


The critical spirit is engaged in the process of fault finding. It seeks to assign blame. To censure is to express vehement disapproval; also part of the critical spirit. It adds up to being judgmental; sitting in the place of God. In the Book of Job we see the critical spirit at work in the friends Job has. Despite losing everything he owned and having all ten of his children killed, Job did not blame God. God gave and God took away. Despite being afflicted with sores all over his body, Job did not sin in accusing God. Job did however defend his righteousness, saying that he had done no grievous wrong to deserve what had befallen him. His friends however disagreed and surmised that if he was afflicted so severely it must be punishment for sin:

"Is it for your piety that he rebukes you and brings charges against you? Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless? You demanded security from your brothers for no reason; you stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked. You gave no water to the weary and you withheld food from the hungry, though you were a powerful man, owning land-- an honored man, living on it. And you sent widows away empty-handed and broke the strength of the fatherless. That is why snares are all around you, why sudden peril terrifies you, why it is so dark you cannot see, and why a flood of water covers you. Job 22: 4-11

With friends like these, who needs enemies? The friends of Job would be proved wrong in their accusations and God would have Job pray for them and would restore Job. The critical spirit that attacked him was wrong and usually it is still wrong today. Because it operates from a position of ignorance. Job's friends assumed the affliction was Job's fault. They judged his heart based on outward evidence. They knew nothing of the heart of Job. They knew nothing of his faithfulness to God. They knew nothing of the conversations God had with Satan that allowed the testing of Job. Yet they criticized anyway. That is what the critical spirit does. It sees the tip of an iceberg and thinks it understands everything that lies below the surface.

Understanding the critical spirit is equally important. First, it is outward directed. The sad truth is that the person with a critical spirit is usually not happy with themselves. The focus on the wrongs of someone else prevents them from having to look at themselves and their own walk. The Bible tells us however we are to do the opposite:

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test? 2Corinthians 13:5

The critical spirit does not examine itself because it will not like what it finds. So it focuses on others. It is a spirit rooted in negativity always seeking what is wrong. They compare their plight in life to what others receive and may feel bitterness for it. The brother of the prodigal son had this spirit. Not happy that his brother returned safely, instead his critical spirit reveals that his motives for staying with his father were not even pure. We do not labor for God to seek reward here on earth. We already have our reward in heaven.

In understanding the critical spirit we must remember that the enemy is a master at influencing this type of behavior. He is after all the accuser:

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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