Faithlife Sermons

Defining Critical Spirit

Walking Christian on Critical Spirit  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  53:45
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Taking a look at the characteristics of a critical spirit in comparison to a carring spirit.

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I. DEFINITIONS

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 glaring in your eye?
Are you compelled to give your critical point of view for the good of all mankind?
If you answered yes to one of these questions, then you have a critical spirit and you are in danger.
Not getting hit-by-a-truck-kind-of-danger, but an even more serious kind—and that is spiritual danger.
A critical spirit is from the dark side.
It is meant to hurt and destroy its object.
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.
A critical spirit creates blind spots in a person’s heart and mind causing them to believe they are being constructive.
In reality, it is characterized as the ungodly.

A. What Is a Critical Spirit?

Eliphaz, most likely the eldest among the friends, speaks first—ever so cautiously. But then his words take on a presumptive tone.
By the time Eli finishes, he insinuates that Job is being disciplined by God because of sin and that the wise way for Job to proceed is to submit to the discipline.
But there’s a problem with his critical presumption.… Job’s tortuous troubles have nothing to do with sin. Instead, they’re all about a showdown between God and Satan over his testimony. Will Job stand? The Bible says …
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
James 1:12
At the Wimbledon tennis championship in England, a judge sits on an elevated chair to the side of the net between two competitors. The judge is hired for the prestigious match by earning the reputation for consistent fairness and accuracy. When a ball is served outside the boundary line, the judge yells, “Fault!” These judgment calls are appropriate and appreciated.
The person with a critical spirit, however, hasn’t earned the reputation of being accurate or fair-minded. This judge sits uninvited and elevated above others, yelling “fault … fault … fault!” These calls are inappropriate and unappreciated.
The Bible is not silent about those who have a critical spirit … those who sit smugly in the judgment seat … looking down arrogantly on others.…
“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.”
Romans 14:10
• A critical spirit is an excessively negative attitude characterized by harshness in judging.
— Criticizers judge others severely and unfavorably.
— Hypercritical people judge others with unreasonably strict standards.
— Faultfinders look for and point out flaws and defects with nagging and unreasonable criticism.
For example, certain circumcised Jewish believers unjustly criticized the apostle Peter for daring to fellowship with the uncircumcised. The issue of circumcision (was it was necessary for salvation or not) created sharp division in the early church.…
“So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him.”
Acts 11:2
• “Criticism” comes from the Greek word kritikos, which means “able to discern or skilled in judging.”
Criticism has two different meanings:
— Speaking fairly with discernment in regard to merit or value
(A literary critic is expected to give a fair critique by accurately analyzing, judging, and reporting.)
— Speaking unfairly with trivial or harsh judgments
(A person with a critical spirit gives unfair criticism by faultfinding, nitpicking, and quibbling.)
The Bible stresses the powerful impact of our right and wrong words.…
“The tongue has the power of life and death.…”
Proverbs 18:21

B. What Is a Caring Spirit?

Job’s friends initially demonstrate a caring spirit, reflecting the deep, attentive love of God in the midst of suffering.
But then the misguided pride that accompanies a critical spirit consumes them to the degree that the three men are more concerned with delivering theological points than showing desperately needed compassion.
The Bible has much to say about pride … including God’s heart attitude toward it.…
“… I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.”
Proverbs 8:13
One of our deepest needs is for someone to care about us—our successes and failures … our strengths and weaknesses … our virtues and vices. We want people to be attentive to our likes and dislikes … our joys and sorrows … our dreams and disappointments. How blessed we are when we have people with caring spirits in our lives!
But how much more secure we feel when we come to know the breadth and the depth of God’s love and care for us. The apostle Paul said …
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:17–19
Caring means someone giving watchful or painstaking attention based on desiring what is best for others.
— To care means to be thoughtfully attentive and protective.
— To care means to be personally interested in or feeling affection toward someone else.
— To care means to be actively involved in doing what is best for another person.
The One who created you gives loving, watchful care toward you. This care is expressed in Scripture.…
“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor.…”
Hebrews 2:6–7
Caring people are genuinely interested in showing concern for others.
In the Bible we read, about truly caring people.…
— The Good Samaritan, who took care of the savagely beaten traveler …
“He [a Samaritan] went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him”
Luke 10:34
— The apostle Paul, who cared for the new Christians young in their faith …
“We were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children …”
1 Thessalonians 2:7
— The Christians in Philippi, who sent a brother to care for the needs of Paul …
“But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, coworker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.… he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me”
Philippians 2:25, 30

C. What Is Encouragement?

After Eliphaz’s (Eli’s) speech, Job replies in his own defense, expressing a need for sincere encouragement instead of wounding words.… “My brothers are as undependable as intermittent streams, as the streams that overflow …” Job laments
Job 6:15
His friends increase his burdens rather than help relieve them.… He further responds, “Now you too have proved to be of no help; you see something dreadful and are afraid”
Job 6:21
In truth, from our earliest years, we’ve all yearned for approval; we have cried out for encouragement. When we learned to write, our hearts called out, “Mommy, look what I drew!” When we were learning to swim or play baseball, our hearts called out, “Daddy, look here! Look at me!” Just as children need encouragement, adults need encouragement, too. But not just occasionally—the Bible says we need this regularly.…
“Encourage one another daily.…”
Hebrews 3:13
Encouragement means one person inspiring another person with comfort, counsel, and confidence.
Encourage literally means “to cause another to be confident.”
— The prefix en means “to cause to be”; courage means “confidence.”
— The encourager “causes” others to have confidence to do what needs to be done and to make needed changes.
— The Lord encouraged Joshua to “be strong and very courageous” in leading the Israelites to inherit the land God promised to give them
Joshua 1:7–8
The Bible says we should all be encouragers.…
“Encourage one another and build each other up.…”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
• “Encouragement,” translated from the Greek word paraklesis, literally means “a calling to one’s aid” to give comfort or counsel.
Para means “beside”; kaleo means “to call.”
— We are called to come alongside and comfort others.
— The Holy Spirit is the “paraclete”—our Comforter, our Counselor, our Advocate.
Jesus said …
“… the Father … will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.… The Comforter, which is the Holy [Spirit] … shall teach you all things.… Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
John 14:16 HCSB
John 14:26–27 KJV
If you are an authentic Christian, consider this: The Holy Spirit has the power to comfort and counsel you to change. Because all true Christians have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit—the very presence of the Spirit of God—you are empowered to be an extension of the Comforter’s ministry. The supernatural power of God can work through you to inspire others who need to change to have the courage to change!
However, if you sit in judgment of someone else, the exercise of a critical spirit may actually prevent the very changes you wish to see. The Bible is clear …
“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”
James 4:12

D. What Is God’s Heart on a Critical Spirit?

Throughout the long book of Job, God is mostly silent, speaking only at the beginning and at the end. But make no mistake about it—He doesn’t miss a single word of conversation between Job and his three “friends.”
Never assume that just because God is silent, He is absent. In the end, He speaks up and reveals His heart response to a critical spirit.…
“One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.”
Proverbs 22:11
Jesus came to earth clothed in humanity in order to die for us, but He also came to show us the Father—in human flesh. He did that both by His actions and by His words. Therefore, if we want to know the Father’s heart on the subject of a critical spirit, we need only examine the life of Jesus—or the way He behaved toward people and what He said to them. Clearly, He confronted sin in people’s lives, but He did it compassionately—not with a critical or condemning spirit. He did it as the Father did it then and as He still does it now.
When it comes to interacting with others, the Lord wants us to examine our own conduct and motives. Jesus spoke unforgettable words with unforgettable imagery.…
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Matthew 7:1–5
Don’t be judgmental or you too will be judged.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”, v. 1
Don’t judge others or you will be judged in the same way and measured by the same standard.
“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”, v. 2
Don’t focus on the small faults of others, before focusing on your own big faults.
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”, v.3
Don’t talk to others about their faults while you ignore your own faults.
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?”, v. 4
Don’t be hypocritical—correct your faults! Then you can correct someone else’s faults!
“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”, v. 5
Luke, one of the Gospel writers, records Jesus saying very similar words …
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Luke 6:37
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