Overcoming A Critical Spirit
By Rhoda Collins
Do you criticize and pass judgment on others? Do you find yourself with a negative disposition, always finding fault with something or someone? Is it difficult for you to see the positive in a person or a situation because the negative is so evident in your eye? Are you bound to give your critical point of view for the good of all mankind?
The spirit of criticism is rampant even in believers’ lives. If you have been a victim of abuse, you can have more tendencies towards criticism and judgement. Maybe your parents constantly criticized or demeaned you and now you do the same things to others. This is a coping mechanism that is rooted in our emotions and our mindsets and needs to be deal with. A tree with bad fruit will grow instead and will control us for the rest of our lives.
If you recognize yourself in this description, then you’ll understand that criticizing other people, circumstances, or conditions in your life can quickly become very toxic to yourself and others around you because:
- Cynicism makes you immune to joy, to satisfaction.
- Others try to avoid you.
- The love in your heart eventually runs dry.
In the Oxford dictionary cynicism is “an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest; skepticism”: doubt, distrust, mistrust, and suspicion.
Proverbs 10:12 says “Hatred stirs up contentions, but love covers all transgressions”.
We are all created for intimacy and love and when we have the spirit of criticism in our DNA its very difficult to find and love people, to give you empathy and the support you need to heal emotionally. No one wants to be around you.
You will be a polluted still water and no flow of the Holy Sprit will go out and you will continue to suffer, and you will not grow spiritually in your relationship with God.
What are the motives behind the critical spirit?
Meriam -Webster dictionary describes ego as the practice of talking about oneself too much; an exaggerated sense of self-importance: Conceit
Conceit means favorable opinion especially excessive appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue.
This includes jealousy or envy, vengeance, anger, hatred, and holding grudges for the purpose of personal gain by destroying the other person.
The following Synonym for egotism is startling when you ponder and think about it.
- swelled head,
- swell headedness,
This involves feeling pressured by someone or feeling anxiety toward someone which produces a critical spirit as a way of self-protection.
This is feeling out of control and using manipulation and shaming someone to gain control.
The effect of a critical spirit is very damaging to a person such as we may stop reading the Word of God and fellowship with our heavenly Father. Concealing this critical spirit in us we close off our hearts, minds, and souls to loving God in anyway. Our fellowship with the Lord is hindered. We will live in a waste land and desolation feeding from the tree of bitterness resentment and unforgiveness which will produce a toxic prison life.
A critical spirit offends God and causes Him to judge that sin. Luke 6:37 says, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” God warns us in Matthew 7:2 that we will be judge the same way we judge others. Unless dealing with a heretic teaching false doctrine (1 Corinthians 2:15; Matthew 7:6, 15-16; John 7:24; 8:15, etc.).
A critical spirit in action is the opposite of loving your neighbor as yourself. Relationships are broken when there’s gossip, backstabbing, judgment, and slander. When we are critical toward others, we put ourselves in an authoritative position over them. This isolates a critical person from fellowship with others. People tend to separate themselves from harsh and critical authority.
A critical spirit is a negative attitude of the heart that seeks to condemn, tear down, and destroy with words. In contrast, constructive criticism involves opinions that are meant to build up, especially in regards to heresy.
A critical spirit creates blind spots in a person’s heart and mind causing them to believe they are being constructive. It is characterized as the ungodly.
There are 4 types of a critical spirit
The Gossiper is a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others with sinful motives without their knowledge or approval. Gossipers try to make themselves significant to the listener by appearing to be the source of all knowledge.
1 Timothy 5:13—“At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.”
Proverbs 11:13—“He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is trustworthy conceals a matter.”
Proverbs 20:19—“He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip.”
Slanderer is a person that has the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another’s reputation
According to Meriam-Webster dictionary slanderer is a false and defamatory oral statement about a person
Proverbs 10:18—“He who conceals hatred has lying lips, and he who spreads slander is a fool.”
Proverbs 16:28—“A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends.”
1 Peter 2:1—“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.”
A judgmental person has an excessively critical point of view, characterized by a tendency to judge harshly. They lack empathy for others’ viewpoint because they believe their point of view is the right one. They believe they have the ability to know others’ motives. They think they have the amazing skill to point out others’ mistakes, while minimizing/ignoring there own. We need to stop looking at ourselves through rose colored glasses and look at others through a magnifying glass.
Complainer is a person who express grief, pain, or discontent and constantly complains about people and circumstances. The Jewish people constantly complained about their circumstances instead of praising God for miracles and how He delivered them miraculously. As a result of their attitude, they spent 40 years in the wilderness and died.
“Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you [yourselves] may not be judged. Look! The Judge is [already] standing at the very door”. James 5:9
Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves]”. Philippians 2:14
If any of these attributes describe you, then you have a spirit of criticism which is dangerous for you and for others around you.
I encourage you to renounce this spirit of criticism so you can become the whole person that God wants you to be.
Do these 5 things
- Monitor your thoughts and mouth.
- Ask God to give you a merciful heart like His for others.
- Ask Him to see others’ full potential and the good in everyone.
- Intentionally replace your criticism with kind thoughts and words. “Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.” Ephesians 4:29
- Be constantly filled with the love of the Lord through an attitude of praise and gratitude towards God.
How to overcome a critical spirit
Overcoming a critical spirit can be difficult because it develops into a life-dominating sin. It becomes a way of life. The way to get rid of a critical heart is to put on love instead of hate, to build up instead of tearing down and to give grace instead of grief.
Love Instead of Hate
God commands us to love Him and to love others. The simplest way to view this is to stop feeding the flesh and start feeding the spirit. The Bible is full of all things we are to put off and all things we are to put on. 1 Peter 2 tells us to put off malice, envy and slander and to pursue the pure milk of the word. We are to stop returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but to give a blessing instead (1 Peter 3:9).
Building Up Instead of Tearing Down
A critical spirit naturally tears down, but as believers, we are called to edify others. In Romans, the apostle Paul instructs us on how to build up others. We are to focus on pleasing our neighbor (15:2) and pursuing things which make for peace (14:19). A person with a critical spirit must be renewed in the spirit of their mind as they seek to do all things for edification (1 Corinthians 14:26).
Giving Grace Instead of Giving Grief
As believers, our lives are to reflect God’s grace. We are to give grace to others instead of the grief that comes from a critical spirit. 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.”
Our words are to be encouraging, uplifting and instructive even when it is corrective. We are to be “kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” Ephesians 4:32.
Demon(s)/Evil spirit influence
Despite your best efforts, if you’re having difficulty getting rid of your critical attitude you should look to demon(s)/evil spirits afflicting you that have to be forcefully confronted, bound, cast out, put in spiritual prison. Look to the Holy Spirit for strategy for your situation, as His healing should come after trauma and demonic activity have been dealt with. See our other teachings for more details.
We know we have overcome a critical spirit when we are characterized by a forgiving spirit because we have been forgiven by God.
Cast out the critical spirit out of your life or it will ruin you, if it hasn’t already, and ruin your relationships.
I’m not saying never to put boundaries with wrong/damaging people or to accept heresy, so use the Word, discernment and the Holy Spirit’s guidance for each approach which may be various.
Go forward in peace and love.