One of the things you will have to guard against is developing a critical spirit when you are growing in Christ. It happens subtly, little by little and with the precious word of God and circumstances.
The Devil’s Deception
The devil never ceasing to take God’s word to trap us into a deceptive web that seems like there is no way out such as he did with Eve in Genesis chapter three. The devil got Eve to think critically against the word of God by questioning the word of God. Granted he was slick to “include” the word of God, “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Gen 3:1
The deception begins in thinking God obviously made all the trees for food. Next comes the self exaltation that by taking of this one tree of knowledge of good and evil it will surely set you apart to gain more understanding than all the rest, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” Genesis 3:6
Sadly, I have seen “Christian” movements across America where people set themselves “apart” by the way they dress, they no longer watch T.V. or they do not partake of certain customs because they have gained greater understanding on the rituals. And in most cases are nice but segregated in their own righteousness.
I am not against seperating yourself from things that God’s word does not deem valuable in your Christian walk but do not become superior in your eyes. I have sadly heard people gloat in the fact that atleast they are not like others and they tend to be generous, joyful, etc. My heart grieves because they are NOT comparing themselves with the holiness of God in humility to be broken hearted before God,
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8
Once the devil has convinced the individual to partake the rest is an entanglement of making yourself “right” before God. “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Genesis 3:4
But remember as Adam and Eve when you partake in critisism even though you are alive physically you will notice that you are cut off from the life source and our Lord’s word becomes dismal and ineffective your own life.
The devil does not stop his deceptions outside the doors of a church house but in fact relishes in joining in. It is sad to note. There is one thing for a believer to judge righteous judgment and another having develop a critical spirit that begins its destructive sweep through a congregation.
“Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times.” Psalm 106:3
In order to have righteous judgment you will have to be right with God not like Adam and Eve who sowed fig leaves.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12
So it is best to have God’s word applied in your life through some basic disciplines such as,
- Hearing – the Word received
- Reading – the Word seen
- Obeying – the Word applied in your life
- Studying – the Word expanded by the Word
- Meditating – the Word becoming yours
- Memorizing – the Word hidden in your heart
- Sharing (preaching) – the overflowing of the Word in your heart and life. You cannot truly share what you have not exercised yourself in.
“For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:13,14
Avoid Critical People
You will know who they are because they will speak of others within their congregation or someone they “know” in tones that are demeaning. But beware for as Eve was beguiled so will you.
When a critical person has affected your heart you will know because you will want to avoid the person they were speaking to you about. Just as Adam and Eve avoided fellowship with God, “And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.” Genesis 3:8
This is certainly a sneaky way that the enemy makes you become fearful rather than to be bold and find out if the critical person’s claims are true by facing the very person they were speaking of.
Another thing to note a critical person that is being used by the enemy will come to you having a form of godliness, an appearance that they are very spiritually minded and thus in their superiority have some special insight into an individual that you should know and avoid. When in fact it is the critical person you should turn away from, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”2 Timothy 3:5
Turning away from a critical person that is basically being used by the enemy to cause division among the brethren is not an easy task to do especially if you discover it is a friend of yours who may be unduly criticizing others. Even more heartbreaking if they are trying to separate you from another dear friend.
This is why it is essential that your heart is grounded in the word of God to help you discern that the critical person is not speaking out of love, “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” Proverbs 17:9
You will also note that a critical person of others usually has a root of bitterness which you certainly must beware of being defiled by, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;” Hebrews 12:15
When to Minister to a Critical Person
The chief end of the Gospel be it toward the lost or applied among God’s people is to seek to restore. You will discover that a critical person is usually a very lonely person, trying so hard to keep an image of “spirituality,” but running around empty.
Yes you are to avoid them and even if you do not have any direct dealings with them you are to make note of them and mark them, also avoiding them, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Romans 16:17
The sad thing is you cannot minister to a critical person when they continue in their critical spirit that is so very destructive because they have a difficult time handling rebuke and produces an even more critical behavior whereby you become the source of their criticism to others.
So what are you to do?
Pray, petitioning God for their sake, draw yourself even closer to the person(s) they were criticizing to see if indeed their claims are true. One of the devil’s ploys is to keep God’s people from communicating with one another because that is a sacrifice is well pleasing to God, “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Hebrews 13:16
Then be ready. Be ready for God to break the critical person’s heart by our Lord’s mercy. Minister to them by God’s abounding grace for they have so much to face.
Are You the Critical Person?
If you are guilty of being a critical person or have believed the unduly claims of a critical indidual, repent and seek the mercy of God. You have no idea the death and destruction your words may have caused in a congregation or between God’s people.
Seek to restore your heart before God and others others, the blood of Christ cleanses!
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
Ask their forgiveness for the bitterness that drove you to destroy them behind their back. Be prepared that some may not receive you because they too have developed a critical spirit of bitterness.
Take heart that despite the weighty sadness and guilt, God will build you back up in his mercy. He truly does not give up on us. And allows God’s people, whom the Lord has touched, to reach down to you that you may claim the loving words of a song a dearly loved friend recently shared with me, “Made by Mercy.”
“A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.” Matthew 12:20