Last week we talked about the FOUR Types Of A Critical Spirit and how easy it is to not realize how you’re critical. I shared a story of a time where I struggled with being critical and didn’t know it until years later after it was pointed out to me.
While it was shocking and hard to hear, I needed to know it. I needed to see it for what it was because then I could, with wisdom, move away from that mindset.
The motives behind a critical spirit are important to know because it’s a vital part of overcoming it. While everyone’s motives may look different, it’s clear what they all come from the same place; the heart.
Mark 7: 14-15 says, “Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”
Your heart can possess compassion, empathy, trust, patience, love, generosity, etc. It could also possess slander, deceit, envy, jealousy, and evil thoughts. When I think back to the time in my life where I was judgemental and critical- it was rooted in my selfish desire for acceptance. My core was full of fear and I was willing to say what I felt like I needed to, to steer clear of rejection.
Three Motives of a Critical Spirit
1. Longing For Acceptance: A person who longs for acceptance will say and do whatever they need to, to prevent someone from rejecting them. They desire to put others down in the eyes of their peers while falsely believing it makes themselves look better. Through jealousy, envy, and holding grudges this person looks for ways to destroy others for their own personal gain and agenda.
2. Fearing Others: A person who wants to feel secure in their position in their world will often fear when someone has the ability to disrupt it. When threatened by someone else by their looks, title, or materials they will lash out in hopes of their personal position to remain intact. They will go to great lengths to protect their platform within their relationships, career, and community.
3. The Need To Control: Manipulation is highly used to control situations and outcomes. This person will use certain tactics to gain control while simultaneously hurting others along the way. When this person feels in control they have a false sense of security and will go to great lengths to ensure the “right” outcomes for themselves. They have a complete disregard for those they are controlling and tend to do so in a passive-aggressive manner.
The heart behind the criticism is different for everyone and the way it comes across varies. Someone who struggles with gossiping could be doing it from a heart of longing for acceptance while someone else gossips for control. A person who judges others harshly may be doing so because they fear how others could affect their position while someone else judges for the purpose of being accepted. When slander is often coming out of the mouth of someone they could be doing it to control an outcome while someone else slanders out of fear.
Whatever the reason is within the heart, one thing is clear: Christ commands us to love Him with all of our hearts, with all our minds, and with all our souls. When you welcome a critical spirit into your heart, that closes you off from others and Him. It creates an attitude where you will avoid seeking wisdom and counsel and the spirit of criticism will grow deeper roots. Overcoming a critical spirit is vital for anyone following Christ and knowing how to overcome is valuable.
Overcoming a Critical Spirit
Love First: We’re only capable of loving because Christ loved us first (1 John). When you spend time with your creator, you will learn to love from feeling His love. This will transform you into who Christ made you to be. It’s impossible to get rid of a critical spirit without knowing your Heavenly Father. You may be able to mask it with “positivity,” but it will never fully go away.
Transform Your Vision: Ask Christ to see the world the way He does. When you normally see things through the eyes of a critical spirit it’s easy to believe there’s no good in a person or situation. When you spend time with Him, your vision will transform and align with His and you will start seeing the good and joy in all things.
Transform Your Words: When a negative thought or attitude comes into your mind, immediately pray against it. Ask God to show you when those thoughts appear because it’s easy to overlook them, especially if you’re used to them always being there. Once God shines a light on the negative thoughts, make an effort to say something encouraging instead. Whether you were or weren’t going to say the negative thought, say something encouraging anyways. Allow your mind and heart hear you say something encouraging. Be intentional about the words that come into your mind and out of your mouth. When your vision is transformed you can start to speak the good and joy you are now seeing.
Transform Your Grace: People with a critical spirit carry limited grace. After spending time with Christ and allowing Him to transform your heart, vision, and words there’s one last thing to keep in mind; grace. Others will always make mistakes, fail and do things that hurt you. Situations will still be hard and unfair. Grace comes in as a way of allowing those things to occur without tempting your heart to go back to the critical thoughts. Extending grace to people and situations not only lightens the load to the receiver of grace, it also protects the heart of the giver of grace.
Ephesians 4:29 says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”
I want to encourage you today to spend time reflecting on your heart. Intentionally listen to the thoughts that come to your mind and the words that come out of your mouth. They will show you the state of your heart. It may take work to change your heart, or it may be transformed instantly, but either way, it’s important to walk this road for you to be more like Christ.
Being kind is free, but the hurt that comes from a critical spirit is very costly to the person on the receiving end.
Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”