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II. CHARACTERISTICS OF CTITICAL SPIRIT

Walking Christian on Critical Spirit  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  55:16
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Looking at the camouflage those with a critical spirit put up.

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II. CHARACTERISTICS

Bill (Bildad) can no longer contain himself, he is becoming increasingly frustrated that Job isn’t owning up to his supposed “sins” and admitting that God is disciplining him.
“How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind”
Job 8:2
Job 8:2 ESV
2 “How long will you say these things, and the words of your mouth be a great wind?
Bill’s compassion erodes into cruelty, and he even accuses Job’s children of sinning … and concludes that’s why God allowed them to be killed.
He makes this tragically wrong presumption …
“When your children sinned against him, he gave them over to the penalty of their sin.”
Job 8:4
Job 8:4 ESV
4 If your children have sinned against him, he has delivered them into the hand of their transgression.
Is there someone in your life who has been especially hard on you?
Notice how those with a critical spirit seek to cancel out their own “shortcomings” by focusing on their own “good intentions,” but they condemn you by focusing on your faults.
Anyone can develop a critical spirit by focusing on the failures of others, and obviously no one is without fault.
But with this selective vision, these faultfinders feel justified in playing dual roles: both judge and jury.
Meanwhile, those being judged feel unjustly criticized …
unjustly compared …
unjustly condemned.
God, on the other hand, never calls attention to our faults in a way that wounds our spirit.
Instead, His plan is to bring positive—though sometimes painful—conviction for this one purpose: to motivate us to change.
Those with a critical spirit deny the “weight” of their sin by measuring it with a different standard than your sin.
They need to be aware of these words from Proverbs, the book of wisdom …
“Who can say, ‘I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin’? Differing weights and differing measures—the Lord detests them both.”
Proverbs 20:9-10
Proverbs 20:9–10 ESV
9 Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”? 10 Unequal weights and unequal measures are both alike an abomination to the Lord.

A. What Are the Differences between a Critical Spirit and a Caring Spirit?

A caring spirit … where to find it?
The bombardment of criticism is getting to Job.
He is slipping into despair and growing cynical—even of God and His justice.…
“It is all the same; that is why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’ When a scourge brings sudden death, he mocks the despair of the innocent. When a land falls into the hands of the wicked, he blindfolds its judges. If it is not he, then who is it?”
Job 9:22-24
Job 9:22–24 ESV
22 It is all one; therefore I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’ 23 When disaster brings sudden death, he mocks at the calamity of the innocent. 24 The earth is given into the hand of the wicked; he covers the faces of its judges— if it is not he, who then is it?
Job’s desperate discouragement in the midst of righteous tribulation demonstrates the importance of manifesting a caring spirit to those in their darkest hours.
We are told to …
“… walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Ephesians 5:2
Ephesians 5:2 ESV
2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Isn’t it interesting how differently people handle the same situation …
sometimes in completely opposite ways?
Two people receive the same bad news—one reacts negatively and the other reacts positively.
Two people see someone make a mistake:
One person lacks mercy and the other extends mercy.
Those with a critical spirit rarely focus on the needs of others—
they’re too busy focusing on the faults of others.
A critical spirit and a caring spirit are on opposite ends of the spectrum,
the one tears people down while the other builds people up.
God continually manifests a caring spirit, and His desire is for us to do the same.

9 Distinct Differences

A CRITICAL SPIRIT
Condemns the person as well as the action
A CARING SPIRIT
Condemns the action, but not the person
Proverbs 12:18
Proverbs 12:18 ESV
18 There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
A CRITICAL SPIRIT
Focuses on the faults of others
A CARING SPIRIT
Focuses on your own faults
Luke 6:41
Luke 6:41 ESV
41 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
A CRITICAL SPIRIT
Ridicules others
A CARING SPIRIT
Encourages others
Proverbs 11:12
Proverbs 11:12 ESV
12 Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.
A CRITICAL SPIRIT
Makes judgments based on appearances
A CARING SPIRIT
Makes judgments based on facts
John 7:24
John 7:24 ESV
24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
A CRITICAL SPIRIT
Assumes the worst without first hearing from the accused
A CARING SPIRIT
Assumes the best while waiting to hear from the accused
John 7:51
John 7:51 ESV
51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?”
A CRITICAL SPIRIT
Tears others down without seeing their unmet needs
A CARING SPIRIT
Builds others up according to their inner needs
Ephesians 4:29
Ephesians 4:29 ESV
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
A CRITICAL SPIRIT
Publicly criticizes those who have wronged them—without first going to them
A CARING SPIRIT
Privately confronts those who have wronged them—by first going to them
Matthew 18:15
Matthew 18:15 ESV
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
A CRITICAL SPIRIT
Reacts pridefully when given advice
A CARING SPIRIT
Responds positively when given advice
Proverbs 13:10
Proverbs 13:10 ESV
10 By insolence comes nothing but strife, but with those who take advice is wisdom.
A CRITICAL SPIRIT
Lacks mercy toward others
A CARING SPIRIT
Extends mercy toward others
James 2:12-13
James 2:12–13 ESV
12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
The old saying is true:
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Honor Your Father and Mother

Question: “I want to be biblical but … how can I honor my mother, who has a critical spirit and is verbally abusive toward me?”
Answer: Submitting to your mother’s abuse is not honoring her, but is dishonoring to her because you are enabling her to continue a sinful habit. When you love someone, you want to do what is best for them.
You can honor your mother by
Living a godly life that reflects positively on her.
Not assuming false guilt when blamed for situations in which you are blameless.
Becoming emotionally and spiritually healthy, which will mean setting healthy boundaries for your relationship.
You could say something similar to this …
— “Mother, I genuinely care about you and love you. Right now I have a concern—if you speak negatively to me or about others, it reflects negatively on you.”
— “Therefore, it’s not in your best interest to continue with negative comments, and it’s not in my best interest to continue to hear the negative criticism.”
— “From now on, every time you speak with harsh criticism, I’m going to leave for a short time. I’ll be back, but leaving will help me to have a more positive attitude.”
— “I want to honor you by expecting the best of you. I know we are capable of better and healthier ways of communicating, and I want us to have the best relationship possible.”
With this caring spirit, you can adhere to God’s command to …
“Honor your father and your mother …”
Exodus 20:12
Exodus 20:12 ESV
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

B. What “Smoke Screens” Camouflage a Critical Spirit?

Job is called blameless by God … but he’s not a sinless man.
Blamelessness signifies a lifestyle characterized by righteousness, but it doesn’t mean that perfection has been achieved.
In fact, Job’s spiraling despair turns his focus to God, who is silent but not absent, and soon accusations loom large in the man once called blameless.
Rather than searching his soul to pursue greater righteousness, Job raises a “smoke screen” and begins to accuse God of injustice.
“I say to God: Do not declare me guilty, but tell me what charges you have against me.… Are your days like those of a mortal or your years like those of a strong man, that you must search out my faults and probe after my sin—though you know that I am not guilty and that no one can rescue me from your hand?”
Job 10:2, 5-7
Job 10:2 ESV
2 I will say to God, Do not condemn me; let me know why you contend against me.
Job 10:5–7 ESV
5 Are your days as the days of man, or your years as a man’s years, 6 that you seek out my iniquity and search for my sin, 7 although you know that I am not guilty, and there is none to deliver out of your hand?
Some criminals use smoke screens when they commit crimes.
Setting off a smoke bomb serves as a camouflage—a diversion and a covering for illegal behavior.
Smoke screens are specifically designed to obscure, confuse, and mislead others.
Can you think of a time when you used a smoke screen to divert attention away from your own flaws—hiding your wrongs behind a “wall of smoke”?
Having a critical spirit not only draws attention away from your own faults, but also focuses attention on the faults of others in an attempt to increase your sense of self-worth.
For example, if you are harboring bitterness, you might blame others for your bitter spirit.
If you are envious of what others have, you could be critical of their success.
These are both classic smoke screens.
But look at what the Bible says …
“If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.”
James 3:14
James 3:14 ESV
14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.

The Smoke Screen

A critical spirit is evident based on a combination of classic characteristics that critical people exhibit.
The following list will help you recognize and better understand those who have a critical spirit.
In addition, you can use it as a personal test to gain insight into your own smoke screens.
S— Spreading
harmful gossip with the justification that “everyone ought to know”
M— Making
others feel embarrassed about their success while secretly envying them
O— Objecting
to criticism from others to avoid personal accountability
K— Kidding
someone with the intent to hurt
E— Engaging
in “constructive criticism” when the criticism is in no way constructive
S— Shifting
blame to someone else when you yourself are to blame
C— Criticizing
someone’s happiness because you are unhappy
R— Reminding
others of their past failures to avoid attracting attention to your failures
E— Employing
sarcastic humor as a weapon to attack
E— Elevating
yourself by putting others down
N— Nurturing
perfectionist tendencies to make yourself look better
What a picture Jesus paints of the faultfinder!…
Imagine a beam of wood embedded in your eye.
It’s too large for you to dislodge without immense pain.
It’s too terrifying to think of other people prying it out.
The solution seems simple:
Ignore it.… Deny it.… Create a smoke screen so no one will notice it.
But you can’t hide the beam from the Lord’s view.
That’s why in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says …
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”
Luke 6:42
Luke 6:42 ESV
42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.

A Wife’s Faultfinding Friends

Question: “What can I say to friends who bad-mouth my husband? The things they say about him keep me focused on his faults.”
Answer: Set boundaries with your friends as to what you will and will not listen to in regard to your husband.
Explain that you have determined to switch your focus from your husband’s faults to his needs … and to pray that your husband would let the Lord meet his deepest inner needs.
Elicit their help—ask them to help you dwell on his positive traits. If your friends continue to be negative, they are not real friends, and you may need to limit your time with them.
Express your concern with a pleasant voice: “I realize what you are saying is true but I cannot change him; only God can do that.”
Emphasize your course of action: “I am choosing to thank God that (). Help me focus on his positive traits and pray that he will allow God to correct his faults, which is what God’s Word tells me to do.”
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8
1 Peter 4:8 ESV
8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

C. What Are Camouflaged Characteristics of a Critical Spirit?

Zo (Zophar) is tired of sitting on the sidelines …
he wants to demonstrate his “superior” understanding of God’s ways before Job.
With a harsher tone than the other two friends and through the use of put-downs and slander,
Zo wants to silence Job once and for all, hoping he’ll finally admit that gross sins have brought great tragedy to his life.
“Are all these words to go unanswered? Is this talker to be vindicated? Will your idle talk reduce others to silence? Will no one rebuke you when you mock?”
Job 11:2-3
Job 11:2–3 ESV
2 “Should a multitude of words go unanswered, and a man full of talk be judged right? 3 Should your babble silence men, and when you mock, shall no one shame you?
And then slipping into vicious sarcasm,
Zo insinuates that Job is witless and that he has as much of a chance to become wise as a donkey has of giving birth to a person.…
“But the witless can no more become wise than a wild donkey’s colt can be born human.”
Job 11:12
Job 11:12 ESV
12 But a stupid man will get understanding when a wild donkey’s colt is born a man!
Most people who display a critical spirit appear strong to the average observer because of the boldness with which they spew out their critical comments.
In truth, criticism is more often the weapon of the weak than of the strong.
It serves both to disguise their perceived inner deficiencies
and to deceive others into thinking they are self-assured and confident.
Yet the Bible says …
“Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.”
Psalm 32:2
Psalm 32:2 ESV
2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
People who possess a critical spirit have certain characteristics that are camouflaged
—not evident to most people.
These camouflaged characteristics include …
C— Concealing
personal hurts and hopes … out of distrust and fear of being abandoned
A— Allowing
no one to get close enough to know the “real” person … because of a fear of being rejected and scorned
M— Manipulating
others into feeling guilty when they are not … in an effort to conceal their own guilt
O— Obtaining
revenge for personal offenses … in order to even the score and feel a sense of power, control, and self-respect
U— Using put-downs and slander to hurt others … in an attempt to feel superior and significant
F— Feeling
they are better than others … to increase self-esteem and diminish feelings of inferiority
L— Leveraging
to be “one up” on others … to establish a position of control and to compensate for feeling vulnerable, like a victim
A— Assuming
they are always right … because being wrong is totally demeaning and demoralizing
G— Giving
little or no thought to the needs of others … as a result of expending too much mental and emotional energy on meeting personal needs
E— Enjoying
few pleasures in life … because the pressing need to be hypervigilant robs them of life’s enjoyments
Those who attempt to conceal these classic characteristics constantly hide the truth from themselves and others.
Unable to meet an unattainable standard,
they pull others down to their perceived level …
but all in vain.
They may succeed in hiding the truth from themselves and others,
but they can never hide from God.
He not only sees their sin,
He also knows their need.…
“You, God, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from you.”
Psalm 69:5
Psalm 69:5 ESV
5 O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
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