Faithlife Sermons

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A. What Was Modeled in Childhood?
What was life like for Eli, Bill, and Zo growing up?
Were they nurtured in a positive environment, or did caustic words of criticism cloud their days?
We don’t know for sure, yet it’s curious that none of the three friends rises to Job’s defense in the midst of this verbal bombardment.
In fact, they seem to feed off of each other as they hammer an already crushed spirit.
But the call of God’s Word is to …
“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
Psalm 82:3–4
The most common cause of a critical spirit is living in a home where criticism abounds—where parents model a critical spirit before their children.
Growing up in such a home where critical comments are continually hurled can cause a child to be overly critical in adulthood.
After all, with children, more is caught than taught.
Overly critical parents produce heavyhearted children.
They feel continually crushed by criticism.
Thus, their sense of self-worth is suffocated … they feel stuck in self-defeat.
Ultimately, condemning parents can provoke their children to anger—children who, under the weight of such pressure become “stone throwers.”
The book of Proverbs presents a poignant word picture of the damaging weight produced by judgmental people who provoke others to feel or act negatively.…
“Stone is heavy and sand a burden, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.”
Proverbs 27:3
A critical spirit is developed under the weight of:
• Unanticipated anger
• Ungrounded guilt
• Unremitting stress
• Unjust rejection
• Undeserved condemnation
• Unmerited blame
• Undue pressure
• Unreasonable control
• Unending fear
• Unsubstantiated accusation
• Unfair comparison
• Unwarranted attacks
Typically, those who live under the pressure of continual criticism feel the excess weight of false guilt.
In truth, they could have easily written these words …
“My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.”
Psalm 38:4
B. What Are Childhood Wounds?
Job has discovered for himself that there is no bigger lie than the old childhood adage: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
This saying could not be further from the truth.
The accusing words of Eli, Bill, and Zo deliver blow after blow to Job’s spirit.
They relentlessly accuse Job of being a sinner and associate shame with his contemptible condition.
Zo misguidedly assures …
“If you put away the sin that is in your hand and allow no evil to dwell in your tent, then, free of fault, you will lift up your face; you will stand firm and without fear.”
Job 11:14–15
It’s true: “Sticks and stones may break my bones.…”
However, when faultfinding words are wrong, the same saying can have a vastly different ending: “… but words can break my heart.”
Critical comments can cause extensive, even lifetime, harm.
No visible wounds will show, but the damage to the spirit of a child can be devastating.
Many children who are assaulted with wounding words resort to criticism as a means of self-defense.
To try to lessen the impact of their own emotional pain, they stay on the attack.
When painful words are played over and over in children’s minds, they may retaliate.
This explains why so many “hurt people … hurt people!” Children who are raised in an overly critical home experience great emotional pain.…
“I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.”
Psalm 109:22
Emotionally hurt children feel the pain of:
H— Harshness … communicating, “You’re not worth any kindness.”
U— Unconcern … communicating, “You have no value.”
R— Rejection … communicating, “You’re not acceptable.”
T— Taunting … communicating, “You deserve to be insulted.”
A critical spirit starts out as a defense tactic.
Typically, if one child hits another, the second hits back.
Striking back when attacked is a natural defensive response … a natural protection.
When you are in a position of having little power, you are unable to protect yourself from the attacks of someone who has much power.
Consequently, you can become skilled in verbal attacks as a means of defense.
However, if you want to be blessed with positive relationships, staying on the attack will never solve the problem.
That is why the Bible says …
“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.
On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”
1 Peter 3:9
C. What Is the Cycle of Criticism?
Job has had enough … and hopes to quiet his “friends-turned-accusers” once and for all.
“You, however, smear me with lies; you are worthless physicians, all of you!
If only you would be altogether silent!
For you, that would be wisdom” (Job 13:4–5).
But the cycle of criticism continues … all three accusers keep up the verbal pounding, which prompts this battered man to plead before his God …
“Only grant me these two things, God, and then I will not hide from you: Withdraw your hand far from me, and stop frightening me with your terrors.”
Job 13:20–21
The painful situations we experience as children are processed by our soul—our mind, will, and emotions.
Over time, we can develop a negative pattern of reacting to these painful situations (becoming critical), a pattern that can remain with us into and throughout our adulthood.
We must rely on the transforming work of the Holy Spirit within us to help us overcome a critical spirit.
When you are trapped in a cycle of critical thinking you may exclaim, “I can’t help reacting this way!”
Yet your emotions are merely responding to what your mind thinks.
Therefore, the cycle is this: Your negative thoughts produce your negative emotions, which, in turn, produce your negative actions.
Since the cycle of criticism begins in our thoughts, we need to heed what the Bible tells us about renewing our minds and appropriate the mind of Christ.
With God’s help we can change our thoughts and then experience a changed life.
Scripture says it this way …
“ ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’
But we have the mind of Christ.…
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
1 Corinthians 2:16; Romans 12:2
Whenever a negative situation occurs in your life, you have a choice as to how you think about it—which determines how you respond.
Children often develop patterns of thinking that dictate their feelings and ultimately their actions.
The natural progression occurs as follows:
Self-Directed Reaction
— Your mind records the cruel words and thinks angry thoughts.
(“He’s so hateful.”)
Many children develop a critical spirit because of the way they process the pain in their lives, and this process is naturally influenced by the ways the significant people in their lives have processed their own pain.
(Children often do what was modeled before them.)
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