Criticism can be defined as dwelling on the perceived faults of another person with no view to their good.
“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.” Romans 14:10-13
Each person is accountable to Christ, not to others. However, the church must be uncompromising in its stand against activities that are expressly forbidden in Scripture (adultery, homosexuality, murder, theft). Being uncompromising does not mean we criticize and judge others, but encourage others to follow God and His ways. This can only be done in a spirit of humility and grace, and out of a pure heart to see that person walking in the freedom that Christ gave us.
When we tear others down we actually hinder the good work that Christ is doing in that person’s life. God is at work even when we do not see it with our physical eyes. Constructive criticism can be helpful if it is intended to build-up someone and help them to be better.
A person with a critical spirit dwells on the negative, and sees the flaws in others rather than the good.
A critical spirit is caused by many factors such a negative attitude or a negative view of life, harboring unforgiveness, bitterness, insecurity, jealousy, envy, being an immature believer, and having an unrenewed mind.
Being a critical person hurts you, others, and fellowship with God. Those who are quick to criticize others or point out the faults of others, are not fully aware of their own sins. Criticizing others may make you feel superior or may mask your own sin, but that is a deeper symptom of being prideful.
Critical people tend to be analytical and have a gift of discernment. These are great gifts from the Lord, but they must be used properly or they can be used in sinful ways. We must have our eyes opened to see the depth of our own sin. We are not sinless and have many faults and weaknesses. We want God to give us grace and mercy for our faults, but we should want God to do the same for others. We never truly know what someone walks through or their heart intentions, so we could end-up judging a situation that we do not know the entire story. I am convinced people act and behave the way that they do because something in their lives has caused them to. Applying grace to others says, “I don’t know what you have been through in your life to cause you to act that way, but I will choose to pray for your needs instead of pointing out what you are doing wrong.”
If you are truly having an issue with someone else, it is okay to communicate your concerns to them in love, but not to gossip about them behind their backs or say things that could damage that person. Remember, our goal is to build-up people, not tear them down. Our words, once spoken, go out into the spiritual atmosphere, and we do not want the enemy to hear our complaints about someone. People are more likely to change for the better if we encourage and motivate them by our words. Allow the Holy Spirit to rebuke or convince someone that they need change. There are times the Lord will allow you to speak truth into someone’s life, but it should be done with good intentions of the heart.
Criticism will make you harsh, vindictive, and cruel. Criticism makes you feel you have all the answers, know more than others, and causes self-exaltation. When you criticize others, you slowly tear away at their self-worth. Pray that you would see others the way that God sees them–especially the most problematic people in your life. Pray that God would help you see the positives in everyone, and that you would focus more on their good qualities. Try instead of focusing on the inappropriate action or sin in someone, ask God to show you their unmeet inner need.
Do you find yourself more critical or more encouraging to others? If you are more critical what steps can you take to change that?