We have become a society of critics. Not that being a critic of something or someone is inherently wrong – the danger comes in the spirit that it breeds. I’m not referring to the movie critic or the food critic in the local newspaper. I’m talking about us – WE have become critics of everything and everyone and the result is that many Christians have developed a critical spirit. A spirit of criticism has possessed them.
The dictionary defines criticism as an act of criticizing; to judge as a critic; to find fault; to blame or condemn. As Christians we too often spend our time finding fault with others in the family of God. We seem to thrive on condemning those who don’t agree with us. The problem is that it comes back to bite us. A person with a critical spirit is like poison – they can destroy a family, a church, a business, or a community but it’s their family, church, place of employment or community that they destroy.
Romans 14:10-13 talks about a critical spirit.
But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written:“As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
The Amplified Bible puts it this way: Why do you criticize and pass judgment on your brother? (Vs 10) and let us no more criticize and blame and pass judgment on one another (Vs 14). Critical people are judgmental people and vice versa.
Let me state the obvious from this passage:
1. It’s not our place to pass judgment or to be critical of other believers. We don’t have to agree with every decision they make but neither are we to be critical of them – that’s God’s prerogative. A Christian with a critical spirit has usurped God’s place. We need to stop playing God.
2. God is more concerned with us than He is with them. The emphasis in the passage is on us not them – it’s that we don’t cause another believer to stumble in their walk with God. The problem is that we are so busy playing morality police and making sure everyone else is living up to our standards that we don’t have time to take care of our own spiritual lives. Christ had something to say about that. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:3-5). Ouch!
A critical spirit is so difficult to get rid of that one writer said it is impossible to help anybody after they have developed a critical spirit. I don’t believe that. By the grace of God anyone can change – but it will take a humble spirit to overcome a critical spirit. To change the critic must admit their sin of pride and their love of their own critical spirit and seek God’s forgiveness. And that is rarely done – the critic cannot see his/her own need. But it is possible.
Instead of a society of critics the church needs a society of encouragers. People who build up instead of tearing down. People who are focused on loving others instead of loving rules. People who are willing to walk through the mud of life with a new believer instead of judging them. People who know that they are only who they are in Christ by the grace of God.
Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may build up another.
1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore comfort each other and build up one another.
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