Keys to Powerful Living: Overcoming
A Critical Spirit
Learning to Give and Receive God's Grace
Do you judge others? Is it easy
for you to find fault with those around you? Then beware: Your spiritual life
is in danger.
A critical attitude can hinder your walk with God and distract
you from God's purposes for your life.
Why We Judge
We judge because
of our own selfish interests. For example, we sometimes become critical when comparing
ourselves to those around us. We try to find fault in others to prove that we
are smarter, better looking, happier or wealthier. But these are selfish reasons.
We simply want to feel better about ourselves. We also get critical when others
fail to do what we ask, or do not do what we think is right. Often, it is a family
member, friend or co-worker who fails to meet our expectations. Our expectations
lead to a judgmental attitude.
Even our own frustrations can lead to a critical
attitude. If life is not turning out the way we desire, we hide our own frustrations
by finding fault with others.
Finding fault and being
critical are some of the easiest things to do. They seem to come naturally to
us. But Jesus told us not to judge "lest you be judged" (Matt.
7:1, NASB). We should obey His command.
Jesus then explained why a judgmental
attitude is so dangerous: "God will be as hard on you as you are on others! He
will treat you exactly as you treat them" (v.2).
When we judge, we invite judgment
upon ourselves. The Bible says that "judgment will be merciless to one who has
shown no mercy" (James 2:13).
By judging others,
we hide our own hypocrisy. For example, when the religious leaders brought a woman
to Jesus who had been caught in sexual sin, they wanted to kill her. But Jesus
responded, "If any of you have never sinned, then go ahead and throw the first
stone at her" (John 8:7). Nobody threw one.
alone reserves the right to judge each person (Romans
14:4). As the Apostle Paul said, "Dear friends, don't try to get even. Let God
take revenge. In the Scriptures the Lord says, `I am the one to take revenge and
pay them back'" (Romans 12:19).
The Cure for Criticism
Judgment is very important. The Bible says that "God is a
righteous judge" (Psalm 7:11, NASB). The cure
for criticism is found in understanding the nature of God's judgment. The Bible
says that every person is a sinner. This sin drives a wedge between God and man,
and deserves judgment (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
Regardless of how "good" we think we are, "all our righteous deeds are like
a filthy garment" (Isaiah 64:6, NASB). We cannot
make up for all the bad things we have done. Left alone, we still deserve God's
judgment: death and eternal torment in a place the Bible describes as a "lake
of burning sulfur" (Rev. 19:20).
Only God could
satisfy the judgment against us for our sins. So God sent His Son into the world
to pay the price for our sins. Jesus Christ took our judgment on Himself and died
in our place. In return, God offers to each person all His blessings -- including
eternal life, forgiveness, peace, joy and hope -- provided we acknowledge Jesus
as our Lord and Savior.
If we truly understood the judgment that we each deserve
from God, we would be less inclined to judge others.
Giving Grace Instead
Have you learned to receive God's grace and mercy? This is the first step to
overcoming a critical spirit. If you have never thanked Jesus for paying the penalty
you deserve, do so now. Simply repent of your sins and turn your life over to
Him (Acts 3:19; Romans
If you know Jesus as your Savior, thank Him for His grace and mercy.
Thank Him for forgiving you of your sins. Thank Him for giving you a second chance
Now, offer grace and mercy to others, Jesus said, "Freely you received,
freely give" (Matt. 10:8, NASB). Instead of judgment,
extend God's love to those around you, beginning with your family, your friends
and your co-workers. Often those closest to us feel the harshest effects of our
From now on when you feel the temptation to become critical,
follow Jesus' clear instruction to take a close look at your own life first (Matt.
7). Ask God to forgive you for your sins. You may even discover why you are so
critical of others.
Remember, it's easy to be critical. The faults of others
are often very obvious to us. During these times we need to make sure we give
grace instead. Thank God for those people and ask the Lord to bless them and reveal
His will to them.
It's really quite simple: God has granted you mercy. He has
paid the debt for your sins. Now, the only debt you owe is to offer His love and
mercy to others, for "mercy triumphs over judgment" (James
Finally, be sure to spend time with God in prayer and study the
Bible. As you read the Scriptures, ask God to help you to be patient with those
around you. In time, you will change from a fault-finder to a grace-giver as you
learn to live like Jesus lived.
As You Pray
If you are a fault-finder,
turn to the Lord right now and ask Him to set you free. "Dear Lord Jesus, I'm
so sorry for the times when I have allowed judgmental attitudes to rule me. Please
forgive me. Help me to remember Your mercy toward me so that I can extend Your
mercy to others. Thank You so much for loving me. In Jesus' name. Amen."
God's Word on Criticism
"Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each
other and love each other. Try your best to let God's Spirit keep your hearts
united. Do this by living in peace" Eph. 4:2,3.
Scriptures for Study
John 8:7 --
No one qualified to judge
Matthew 7:1-2 --
Effects of judging
James 2:1-13 -- Pitfalls
1 Peter 2:1-3 -- Antidote for judging
Philippians 4:4-8 -- Learning to put up with
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Scripture references are from the Contemporary English Version.
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