Recently, I heard a pastor on the radio mention someone having a “critical spirit” and I wondered if that is something that would be said about me. I don’t want to be someone with a critical spirit, so if I am, I want to get that cleared up right away!
What is a “critical spirit”? At first, I thought of this as the way I treat other people. Am I critical of others? Do I condemn them? Cut them down? Point out negative things about them? Clearly, this is not the way Jesus wants me to treat others. He made it clear that we are supposed to “love our neighbor as ourselves” and also to “love our enemies”. (Matthew 19:19, Luke 6:27) And even when a situation needs truth spoken into it, we are commanded to “speak the truth in love”. (Ephesians 4:15)
So how do I make sure that I don’t have a critical spirit towards other people? Recently, God made me realize that everyone has a story and that changed the way I see the people around me. I don’t automatically assume the worst about a person. I try a little harder to see them through God’s eyes. I am not always going to know what someone else is experiencing in their life and if I try to extend even a tiny bit of the grace that God extends to me, I will be less likely to have a critical spirit towards other people.
Everyone has a story!
But a critical spirit is about more than just how I treat other people. It’s about how I approach life in general. Someone with a critical spirit is negative about everything. They complain a lot and always see the bad in situations. That is not someone that people want to be around and not someone that I want to be. I can usually catch myself when I’m being critical of other people, but I have a harder time catching myself being critical of life in general. I don’t realize how critical my spirit has become about life until I start to reflect on the complaining I’ve been doing. Maybe I’m complaining out-loud to the people around me or maybe I’m grumbling on the inside and letting the negativity flow out from me. Either way, it is impacting my ability to live my life for the Lord and it is time to change my perspective.
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix out gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. – 2 Corinthians 4:18
If I look at things through the context of this fallen world, it will quickly lead to a critical spirit. And since this is the exact opposite of the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), the devil is all too happy to feed me the lies that drag me down. It may not always be easy to find something good in the current situation, but it is not impossible. All I need to do is stop for a moment and reflect on the ways in which God has blessed me. That list will quickly get longer than the list of complaints I started with. When I remind myself that God has a purpose for the experiences he allows in my life, I can turn my critical spirit into a praising spirit!
Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan. – Ephesians 1:11