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Steps to Solution for a Critical Spirit

Walking Christian on Critical Spirit  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  53:06
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Use truth to overcome criticism, what the Bible says.

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IV. STEPS TO SOLUTION

The Lord is using traumatic trials to help Job gain a greater understanding of God and to grow Job into a more faith-filled man of God.
Ultimately, the Lord is Job’s “heavenly sandpaper.”
And no matter how tough Job’s tragedies, they will not take his life.
In fact, honor—double honor—is just around the corner.
For the Bible says, “… whoever heeds correction is honored”
(Proverbs 13:18).
Proverbs 13:18 ESV
18 Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.
Like Job, we all need a little “heavenly sandpaper” to help smooth over the “rough edges.”
But those who appoint themselves to be our personal heavenly sandpaper can leave us worn down … emotionally rubbed raw.
Without a doubt, God uses our close relationships to teach us the truth about ourselves—the truth about our rough edges.
But rather than wearing us down, He builds us up so that we can become all He created us to be.
Rather than leaving us discouraged, He helps us feel encouraged and causes us to change.
Clearly, constructive criticism can reveal specific areas in our lives that need to be refined.
But when you seek to give “constructive” criticism, be certain that God has directed your words—that they are carefully chosen and spoken in truth and with love.
But be aware, too much coarse sanding will be resented and result in being rejected.
Prideful criticism will always be rejected.
However, if the criticism of you is incorrect, be calm—not curt or critical.
The book of Proverbs makes this point plain …
“A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them”
(Proverbs 14:3).
Proverbs 14:3 ESV
3 By the mouth of a fool comes a rod for his back, but the lips of the wise will preserve them.

A. Key Verse to Memorize

Job’s three finger-pointing friends speak words that are terribly distasteful—words too difficult to stomach.
Rather than their conversation being filled with grace, they are filled with faultfinding.
The unholy trio is determined to get Job to own up to his supposed guilt, while Job is just as determined to maintain his innocence.
This negative approach does nothing to encourage positive relationships.
People get stuck in a stalemate—and no one wins. So whether you give or receive constructive criticism, the Bible says …
(Colossians 4:6)
Colossians 4:6 ESV
6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
Why salt? Known as “white gold” in ancient times, salt has always been highly valued. Previously used as money for commercial trade, today salt is used:
(1) to season food, which enhances flavor,
(2) to clean cuts and abrasions, which acts as a disinfectant,
(3) to melt icy roads and sidewalks, which prevents different kinds of accidents, and
(4) to preserve food, which without refrigeration keeps it from quickly spoiling.
When the Bible says, “Let your conversation be … seasoned with salt,” envision the “salt” of your words being used wisely …
To produce enhanced enjoyment in all your relationships
To purify your wounded relationships by speaking healing, grace-filled words
To prevent the accidental “slip of the tongue” and the use of caustic, critical words
To preserve your reputation and keep it from being spoiled
Scripture reminds us …
(Matthew 5:13)
Matthew 5:13 ESV
13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

B. Key Passage to Read

James 3:1–12
James 3:1–12 ESV
1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
Job feels the piercing power of the tongue unleashed by his three friends.
But another man stands waiting in the wings for a chance to speak … to use his own tongue in an attempt to impart truth.
Elihu (Hugh for short)—the youngest of Job’s visitors—is angry with all of them.
None of Job’s friends finds a way to refute him, yet they all find ways to condemn him.
And he’s upset at Job’s implication that God would be unjust.
Oh, the power of the tongue! Isn’t it interesting how small objects can possess great power?
The power of the tongue seems far out of proportion to its size.
A large horse is controlled by a small bit in its mouth …
an enormous ship is controlled by a small rudder.
James 3:5 says …
James 3:5 ESV
5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
We can learn much from James 3:3–12. The tongue, though little, can be …
Powerfullike a small bit, turning a huge horse., v. 3
Forcefullike a small rudder, steering a massive ship., v. 4
Dangerouslike a tiny spark, igniting a great forest fire., v. 5
Devastatinglike a searing fire, burning the whole body., v. 6
Corruptinglike an evil force, instigated by hell, v. 6
Untameablelike a restless evil, full of deadly poison, v. 8
Contaminatinglike a two-faced hypocrite, both praising and cursing others., v. 10
Distastefullike a flowing spring, embittered by salt water, v. 11
Contradictorylike a fig tree bearing olives
like a grapevine bearing figs, v. 12
Based on the Bible, this fact is true:
Polluted water and pure water cannot pour out of the same stream.
Likewise,
if praise to God and criticism of others flow from the same mouth,
the conflicting inconsistencies reveal that something is desperately wrong with the source
—the heart is impure,
for Luke 6:45 (ESV) reveals, “out of the abundance of the heart” the mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45 ESV
45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

C. How to Stop Growing a Crop of Criticism

Elihu (Hugh) starts out with the voice of reason amidst a torrent of emotion.… “So listen to me, you men of understanding. Far be it from God to do evil, from the Almighty to do wrong.… It is unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice” (Job 34:10, 12).
While Hugh eloquently espouses truths about the character of God, he—like the others—eventually grows a crop of criticism where Job is concerned. He wrongly assesses the cause of Job’s multiple tragedies.
“Is there anyone like Job, who drinks scorn like water? He keeps company with evildoers; he associates with the wicked” (Job 34:7–8). Hugh pressures Job to repent and proclaims: “Now you are laden with the judgment due the wicked; judgment and justice have taken hold of you” (Job 36:17).
But the criticism will stop … when God speaks. And, oh, will He speak!
In truth, you can grow a “crop of criticism” even if you usually are not a critical person.
These “crops” can suddenly sprout up through circumstances in which you cast a critical eye or bend a critical ear.
With the source of your criticism rooted in resentment toward others,
you eagerly point out their flaws.
You may not recognize when you are being overly critical,
but God does … and so do those who know you best.
The Bible even says …
“All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.”
(Proverbs 16:2)
Proverbs 16:2 ESV
2 All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.
If you desire to quit growing a crop of criticism, first pray that you will see your “seeds” of criticism from God’s perspective. Then ask yourself:
What causes me to become critical?
What kind of looks do I give when I’m being critical?
How do I act when I’m being critical?
Do I express a critical attitude …
— When I’m around certain people (family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, neighbors)?
Who: _______
— When I’m required to go to unpleasant places?
Where: _______
— When I must engage in undesirable activities (social, work, recreational)?
What: _______
— When I feel unsettling sensations (anger, fear, frustration, grief, embarrassment, disgust, impatience)?
Which one(s): _______
— When I have been unjustly treated (disrespected, ignored, misquoted, insulted)?
How: _______
— When I think about those who are unlike me (educationally, physically, socially, racially, politically, spiritually)?
Who: _______
— When I talk about controversial issues (political, religious, moral, or personal convictions)?
Which one(s): _______
Why do I have a critical spirit toward these people, places, or situations?
(Explore the reasons for each one listed.)
Once you have identified your crop of criticism, pray for God’s discernment to:
Explain your crops of criticism to someone spiritually mature who is able to support you in making godly changes.
Enlist the help of an accountability partner in making two lists: first, those whom you need to forgive and second, those from whom you need to ask forgiveness.
Exercise your resolve to ask forgiveness of others and to extend forgiveness to others.
Examine your thought life in light of God’s Word.
Enter into an agreement with God to allow His Word to “sift out” your critical spirit.
Expel all thoughts that do not pass through God’s scriptural grid.
Exchange your critical thinking for God’s correct thinking.…
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
(Philippians 4:8)
Philippians 4:8 ESV
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

D. How to Have a Transformed Life

Up until now, Job’s judgmental tribunal has delivered speech after speech … rightly glorifying the greatness of God, yet wrongly accusing Job as a flagrant sinner. God has been quiet, but it will soon be evident He hasn’t missed a single word.
Now it’s God’s turn to impart truth, which, in the end, can transform each man’s life.
There’s an old saying, “If you aim at nothing, you are certain to hit it.”
In truth, God wants you to set your sights on a target and aim carefully.
This isn’t just any target, but the one God has selected for you …
one that will change your life …
one that will make you more Christlike.
Notice how the apostle Paul took such careful aim.…
“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.…”
(Acts 20:24)
Acts 20:24 ESV
24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Reaching the Target: Transformation!

Target #1—A New Purpose: God’s purpose for me is to be conformed to the character of Christ.

“Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son …”
(Romans 8:29).
Romans 8:29 ESV
29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
— “I’ll do whatever it takes to be conformed to the character of Christ.”

Target #2—A New Priority: God’s priority for me is to change my thinking.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”
(Romans 12:2).
Romans 12:2 ESV
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
— “I’ll do whatever it takes to line up my thinking with God’s thinking.

Target #3—A New Plan: God’s plan for me is to rely on Christ’s strength, not my strength, to be all He created me to be.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me”
(Philippians 4:13 ESV).
Philippians 4:13 ESV
13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
— “I’ll do whatever it takes to fulfill His plan in His strength.”

My Personalized Plan

Suppose someone said to you, “When I think of you, I think of Jesus.”
How would you feel?
In the deepest part of your heart, wouldn’t you like to have the character of Christ be evident in your life?
If so, what was He really like?
Do you perceive Jesus as having a critical spirit or a caring spirit?
Did Jesus have a judgmental spirit toward people, or did the truth He spoke judge them?
And when His words exposed the sinful reality of their hearts, were they not accompanied by a merciful offer of redemption?
People were drawn to Jesus because He was an encourager, not a critic.
While He didn’t ignore sinful behavior, He wasn’t the classic “faultfinder” either.
Instead, He was concerned with recognizing and meeting needs, most importantly our need to have our sins forgiven through His death and resurrection.
When you experience authentic salvation, the Bible says you have “Christ in you”
(Colossians 1:27);
Colossians 1:27 ESV
27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
therefore, you have the capacity to care rather than to criticize.
If you truly want to be like Christ, don’t be a critic
—enlarge your heart to become an encourager. …
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”
(Philippians 2:1–2)
Philippians 2:1–2 ESV
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.

Changing a Critical Heart to a Caring Heart

A caring heart sees its own shortcomings.
— Humble your heart to see your own sin, your imperfections, and your immense need for God’s mercy.
— Rather than measuring yourself by human standards, measure yourself by God’s standard—the perfect Savior.
— Instead of making sure others see how significant you are, help them see their significance in God’s eyes.
— Pray, “Lord, may I see my sin as You see it, and may I hate my sin as You hate it.”
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”
(Psalm 139:23–24).
Psalm 139:23–24 ESV
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! 24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
A caring heart has active compassion for others.
— Look closely at the life of Christ to learn His compassionate way of confronting the truth.
— Consider the woman caught in adultery—a crime in that day … worthy of death. Jesus didn’t focus on her fault. Instead of condemning her, He looked beyond her fault and saw her need.… Then He compassionately met that need. (Read John 8:3–11.)
— Look at the woman at the well who had been in multiple marriages and was living with yet another man. Although Jesus knew all about her, He didn’t focus on her fault. Without ignoring her sin, He chose to focus on her need and then compassionately met her need. (Read John 4:5–42.)
— Pray that you will not be a critical stone-thrower, but a compassionate “need-meeter.”
“As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”
(Colossians 3:12).
Colossians 3:12 ESV
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,
A caring heart draws out the heartfelt needs of others.
— Listen not only to what people say on the surface, but also for feelings beneath the surface—feelings of being unloved, insignificant, and insecure.
— Learn the “language of love” that speaks to the heart—a thoughtful note, a favorite food, a surprising gift, a tender touch, or reaching out to one of their loved ones.
— Ask: “What can I do to improve our relationship?” Listen carefully, then repeat what you hear.
Reflect: “Are you saying …? Is that what you said?”
Clarify: “It sounds as if you feel.…”
Explore: “I’m not sure I understand what you are saying.…”
Extend: “Is there more?… What else do you feel?”
Offer: “What would be meaningful to you?”
— Pray that God will give you a discerning spirit as you seek to draw others out.
“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out”
(Proverbs 20:5).
Proverbs 20:5 ESV
5 The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.
A caring heart offers acceptance to others.
— Realize, everyone has an innate fear of rejection and a deep yearning for acceptance.
— Recognize, God accepts you just as you are … even with your faults. You are His beloved child in whom He takes much pleasure.
— Choose to be a channel through which God extends His acceptance to others.
— Pray for God to reveal the ways you have rejected others and the ways to reach out with a heart of acceptance.
“Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.… for God has accepted them”
(Romans 14:1, 3).
Romans 14:1 ESV
1 As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.
Romans 14:3 ESV
3 Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
A caring heart sees God-given worth in others.
— Recognize, the worth of something is most often demonstrated by the price paid for it.
— Look at how the Lord demonstrated the worth of every person by paying the highest price—His life. With His blood, He paid the necessary ransom to redeem you from the penalty of your sins.
— Treat every person—including the most problematic—as someone with God-given worth. After all, God judges our hearts, attitudes, and actions toward others.
— Pray that the Lord will not allow you to despise anyone He created. And pray that you will see others as God sees them … and value them as He values them.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows”
(Luke 12:6–7).
Luke 12:6–7 ESV
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
A caring heart praises the positives in others.
— Refuse to be a pharisaical faultfinder. The Pharisees even found fault with the faultless Son of God.
— Avoid the temptation to “catch” people doing something wrong. Instead, comment on what they are doing right.
— Compliment outer characteristics (cleanliness, sweet countenance, modest clothing, etc.) and praise inner character: “I see that you have wisdom … perseverance … thoughtfulness … integrity.”
— Pray that you will see something positive in every person, then faithfully make that your focus.
“The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”
(James 3:17).
James 3:17 ESV
17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.
A caring heart doesn’t wound others with words.
— Understand the fallacy of the saying, “Talk is cheap.” Talk is costly … when it tears others down. Consider that what you are criticizing in someone may be something God wants to address directly with that person … meanwhile, He wants you to remain silent and to pray.
— Before speaking words of criticism, ask a wise friend to evaluate your content and tone. Realize, after critical words are spoken, you can never take them back.
— Inspire those needing to change with your belief that they can change: “Don’t give up.… God will guide you in the way you should go.… I know you can make the right decisions.… I believe you can experience God’s best.”
— Pray for God to put His words into your mind … and your mouth.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom …”
(Colossians 3:16).
Colossians 3:16 ESV
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
A caring heart sees the unmet needs of others.
— Realize, people who put down others have at least one unmet inner need … the need for love, for significance, or for security.
— Instead of judging the inappropriate actions of others, seek to understand the need behind their actions.
— Realize, people don’t always mean what they say or even understand the needs behind what they say.
— Pray that your critics will allow the Lord to meet their deepest inner needs.
“My God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus”
(Philippians 4:19).
Philippians 4:19 ESV
19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
A caring heart relies on God’s Word and God’s Spirit for wisdom.
— Seek God’s wisdom by reading a chapter a day from the book of Proverbs. This book of wisdom was written by Solomon, whom God gifted with supernatural wisdom. (Read 2 Chronicles 1:7–12.)
— Write down every verse from Proverbs that pertains to the tongue. By looking at this list, determine whether you are being wise with your words.
— See God at work in every circumstance and trust Him for wisdom to know how to respond. (Wisdom is the ability to look at life from God’s point of view.)
— Pray for God’s Spirit to teach you spiritual truths and lead you to speak these truths in love.
“This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words”
(1 Corinthians 2:13).
1 Corinthians 2:13 ESV
13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

E. How to Respond When Confronted for Being Critical

When God finally confronts Job and his accusers, His constructive criticism of Job starts the process of personal transformation.
Job had flooded the heavens with questions about his desperately despondent situation. But God makes it clear—as Job’s Creator—that now He’ll be asking all the questions. The poignant truth is this: God owes us no answers.
The Lord also makes it clear that Job’s accusations have cast a shadow over the character of God. Indeed, Job challenged God. In turn, God challenges Job!…
“Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: ‘Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ ”
(Job 38:1–3)
Being confronted about our personal wrong is never pleasant, but always necessary for spiritual growth and for developing healthy relationships.
If you are to be conformed to the character of Christ, you must change.
And change is the purpose of confrontation.
God’s heart for you is that you respond to confrontation with humility and wisdom, seeking God for keen discernment and the power to change when the criticism is legitimate.
Change is never about pleasing people, it’s about pleasing God, who commends those who heed constructive criticism.…
“Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded.”
(Proverbs 13:13)
Proverbs 13:13 ESV
13 Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.
Resolve to respond to criticism in a way that is biblical and reflects the character of Christ.…
Make your relationship a priority over your need to always be right.
“The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?”
(1 Corinthians 6:7).
1 Corinthians 6:7 ESV
7 To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?
Demonstrate a heart willing to understand the other person’s perspective. Be willing to change where necessary and to heal any relational tension.
“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”
(Romans 12:18).
Romans 12:18 ESV
18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Listen carefully, even if you disagree with the other person’s opinion. Give yourself time to consider what the other person says before you respond.
“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry …”
(James 1:19).
James 1:19 ESV
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;
Respond with humility. Release your reputation to God and ask Him to help you with your relationships.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time”
(1 Peter 5:6).
1 Peter 5:6 ESV
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
Consider those who confront you as being gifts from God. Flattery builds your pride, but confrontation helps you grow in the Lord.
“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses”
(Proverbs 27:6).
Proverbs 27:6 ESV
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
Maintain dignity and discernment. Allow God to speak to you through the other person. Your confronter may be someone who can help you overcome your critical attitudes. Even if you do not agree with your confronter, God may still use this opportunity for you to esteem the confronter for both the courage displayed in confronting you and for the value placed on your relationship.
“Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding”
(Proverbs 15:32).
Proverbs 15:32 ESV
32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
Consider the counsel of your confronter without being defensive or reactive. God may be using this person to help you grow closer to Him. The benefits of confrontation may include coming closer to God, living a more loving lifestyle, and growing more intimate with your confronter.
“Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy”
(Proverbs 29:1).
Proverbs 29:1 ESV
1 He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.

When You Don’t Want to Be a “Know-It-All” …

Question: “What should I do if I usually know the correct answers but I don’t want a ‘know-it-all’ reputation?”
Answer: The issue isn’t knowing all the correct answers, but rather knowing what to do with your knowledge. For starters:
• Don’t assume that you should always correct people when they are wrong or when they make a mistake, unless the consequences to them or someone else is substantial or life-threatening.
• When you do express your thoughts in a conversation, you could follow with, “What are your thoughts?”
• Don’t assume that you should always be the first to give an answer when questions are asked.
• Ask God for wisdom as to when to speak and when to be silent.
The book of Proverbs gives us this warning …
“Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them.”
(Proverbs 29:20)
Proverbs 29:20 ESV
20 Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

F. How to Ask Forgiveness for Being Critical

If you’ve had a critical spirit, you need to ask forgiveness from those you’ve criticized. In truth, you have a need to be forgiven … first by God and then by those you’ve criticized. However, asking for forgiveness can be difficult if you don’t realize your need to be forgiven … and the freedom it grants you.
Jesus makes it clear that you are to go to those you have offended … before you approach God and even before you offer Him a gift at church!
In His own words …
Matthew 5:23–24 ESV
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
If you have wounded people with your critical spirit, go to each one individually and …
Acknowledge your critical spirit.
“I realize I’ve been wrong. My critical spirit has been wrong toward you, and I am genuinely sorry.”
Acknowledge God’s work in your life.
“God has clearly convicted me. He has been doing a work in my heart and has made me aware of how I have wronged you.”
Acknowledge your untrustworthiness.
“I realize you don’t have any reason to trust me in this area right now because I haven’t proven myself trustworthy. But I hope one day to prove that I can be trusted.”
Ask for clarification.
“You are important to me, and I can tell that I have wounded you. Would you please tell me in what other ways I may have hurt you? I genuinely want to know.”
Ask for further clarification.
“Are there other ways I have caused you pain?”
Acknowledge each offense.
“I understand I have hurt you by.…” (Using their words, mention every way you have hurt them.) For example, “I realize I have been insensitive to you.”
Ask forgiveness.
“I don’t know whether you are willing to forgive me right now, and I understand if you aren’t. I realize I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but for my hurtful actions toward you, I would like to ask, ‘Will you forgive me?’ ”
Acknowledge your commitment.
“I am committed to allowing the Lord to continue working in my heart and life to change me. I thank you for helping me by having the courage to be honest with me.”
Acknowledge your gratitude.
“I thank you for talking with me and allowing me to apologize.”
The Bible says to …
Ephesians 4:32 ESV
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

When You’ve Offended Your Friends …

Question: “I’ve recently realized that I have a critical spirit and have offended some close friends. God has shown me that I am pushing others away by the way I interact with them. How can I earn the respect of my friends who no longer trust me.”
Answer: Go to each person you have wounded and say …
• “God has convicted me that I have been hurtful in the way I’ve talked to you.”
• “I understand why you would have difficulty trusting me.”
• “I hope you can eventually forgive me and give me the opportunity to earn your friendship again.”
• “Would you be willing to forgive me?”
• “Would you be willing to confront me in the future if you detect a critical spirit in me again?”
Wouldn’t you appreciate someone coming to you with a spirit of repentance if the shoe were on the other foot? They may not forgive immediately, but a sincere apology and asking forgiveness can go a long way toward future forgiveness and possible reconciliation. The book of Proverbs says …
Proverbs 27:5–6 ESV
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.
When You Can’t Forgive Yourself …
Question: “How can I forgive myself for continually criticizing the woman I love? Even though she has forgiven me, I have lost her.”
Answer: When the consequences of sin are great, the difficulty with forgiving yourself can also be great. If your sin had not cost you so much, you would likely have less difficulty forgiving yourself. The reality is that God and this woman have both forgiven you, and to not forgive yourself is to set yourself up as a higher judge than God.
• Choose not to focus on the past and what you have lost. This will only keep you angry with yourself and emotionally stuck.
• Focus on growing in your relationship with Jesus and conforming to His character.
The result will be that God will change the way you relate to those you love, and He will make you into the godly, loving man you desire to be.…
1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

G. How to Respond to Your Critic

As soon as God confronts Job for his critical spirit, Job repents in deepest humility. Then, God turns His attention to Job’s critics. He states point-blank to Eli, the eldest: “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has” (Job 42:7).
When God confronts them, they respond immediately with teachable hearts.
God instructs the accusers to bring certain animals to Job which, in turn, become burnt offerings to the Lord. After Job prays for his friends—his former critics—to receive mercy, God promises, “… I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly” (Job 42:8).
In truth, human nature says to react “in kind” to others—insult for insult, blow for blow. However, one of the clearest challenges the Lord gives us is not to react “in kind,” but to respond “in the Spirit.”
To be Spirit-controlled rather than situation-controlled is not natural to human nature. Being Spirit-controlled is supernatural, yielding control to the indwelling Holy Spirit, whom you received at salvation. Unmistakably, to return evil for evil is natural, but to return good for evil is the supernatural response God desires for you to have toward your critics.
Scripture gives a clear directive.…
Romans 12:21 ESV
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

10 Steps to Respond to Criticism

When you respond to criticism, do so by relying on the power of Christ’s Spirit within you.
#1 Be assured, you can accept others in the same way Christ accepts you.…
“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7).
Pray—
“Lord, I thank You that You accepted me when I was undeserving and You continue to accept me even when I fail. Because of Your acceptance of me, I can accept others, even those who fail me. I will choose to accept even my most severe critic as a divine creation of God.”
#2 Be open to the slightest kernel of truth when you are criticized.…
“A rebuke impresses a discerning person more than a hundred lashes a fool” (Proverbs 17:10).
Pray—
“Lord, if there is any truth in the critical words said about me, please convict my heart so that I might confess it and cooperate with You to change it.”
#3 Be willing to consider that the criticism may be true. Your critic may be God’s megaphone to get your attention.…
“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice” (Proverbs 12:15).
Pray—
“Lord, I accept this criticism as Your way of teaching me something I need to know. Please reveal to me what it is You are saying to me through this criticism.”
#4 Be diligent about receiving criticism without becoming defensive. …
“Mockers resent correction, so they avoid the wise” (Proverbs 15:12).
Pray—
“Lord, I admit that I ( ). I agree I was wrong. Please continue to use others to put me on a correction course when I’m off track in my attitudes or actions. And please continue to transform me more and more into the character of Christ.”
#5 Be determined not to speak ill of your critic.…
“Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).
Pray—
“Lord, I yield my tongue to You. I ask You to place a guard over my mouth so that I will speak only the truth in love to ( ) and not speak ill of ( ) to others. I pledge to focus on the good in ( ) and not on the bad.”
#6 Be committed to pray for your critic.…
“… love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you …” (Matthew 5:44).
Pray—
“Lord, I commit ( ) into Your hands. I pray that ( ) will learn of Your love and then begin to love the way You love and have a peace that is Your peace. I pray that ( ) comes to experience Your love, grace, and truth in profoundly deep ways, and in so doing, becomes a blessing to many.”
#7 Be aware that as a follower of Christ, you will be criticized.…
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matthew 5:11).
Pray—
“Lord, I want to be like Christ. Just as Jesus was unjustly criticized, I should expect to be criticized. Rather than feeling rejected, I choose to rejoice in the privilege of suffering in this way, and I thank You for rewarding me by calling me blessed.”
#8 Be encouraged that you will be disciplined by God because you are His child.…
“And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, ‘My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son’ ” (Hebrews 12:5–6).
Pray—
“Lord, thank You for loving me and dealing with me as a loving Father by disciplining me when I need correction. I choose to receive all discipline from You as a sign of Your devotion to me and of Your acceptance of me as Your child.”
#9 Be dependent on the Lord’s perspective to determine your worth and value, not on the opinions of others.…
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).
Pray—
“Lord, thank You for demonstrating my worth and value by dying for me and adopting me into Your family. I will not live for the approval of people, for I have Your approval and that is all I need. Thank You for loving me.”
#10 Be discerning regarding the accuracy of the critical words of others.…
“The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction” (Proverbs 16:21).
Pray—
“Lord, help me to not accept all critical words as true, nor to reject all critical words as lies. Enable me to discern the false from the true. Put a hedge of protection around my mind so that I reject the lies. Allow my heart to accept constructive criticism so that You may bring freedom to my life and change me.”

H. How to Forgive Your Critic

Forgiveness is needed by everyone and is to be extended by everyone, whether requested or not. God commands us to forgive others just as He has forgiven those who are in Christ. However, asking forgiveness of someone and extending forgiveness to someone can be a major stumbling block.
The solution is found in God’s Word. He is our masterful Creator, our loving Lord and Savior, our compassionate Ruler and Redeemer. He alone knows our deepest needs, and He alone knows how to meet those needs, including empowering us in the area of forgiveness. His Word to us says …
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
(Colossians 3:13)

How to Handle “The Hook”

Failing to forgive someone keeps us emotionally “hooked” to that person and reaps negative repercussions in our own lives. Forgiveness involves taking the offender off of our emotional “hook” and putting that person onto God’s “hook.” …
• Make a list of all the offenses committed against you by your offender.
• Imagine right now a meat hook around your neck and a burlap bag hanging from the end of the hook resting against your chest.
• Picture all the pain that is caused by the offenses against you as heavy rocks being dropped into the burlap bag—the greater the pain, the heavier the rocks. So, now you have 100 pounds of rocks—rocks of resentment—hanging from the hook around your neck.
• Ask yourself, “Do I really want to carry all that pain and resentment the rest of my life? Am I willing to take the pain from the past and release it into the hands of the Lord?”
You can take the one who offended you off of your emotional hook and place your offender onto God’s hook. The Lord knows how to deal with your offender … in His time and His way. God says …
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay.”
(Deuteronomy 32:35)

I. How to Confront Someone Who Has a Critical Spirit

Job’s three friends initially come to extend sympathy and comfort, but when they speak, their words are neither sympathetic nor comforting … but confrontational. They violate the first rule of confrontation, which is “confront in private” … and Job is offended.
The goal for confrontation is repentance and restoration. Therefore, those who confront inappropriately and those who avoid confrontation altogether do not help the one who needs to change. The detrimental result is that damaging criticism continues and relationships are destroyed.
Jesus stated both the how and why of confrontation.…
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ ”
(Matthew 18:15–16)

When you must confront …

Align your heart and mind with God’s heart.
— Confess any sinful thought, motive, or deed on your part.
— Ask God for discernment and direction as to what, if any, action you are to take.
— Seek God’s wisdom through prayer, His Word, and the godly counsel of others.
Allow emotions to subside before confronting the problem.
— Realize, reason is not maximized in the heat of the moment.
— Wait until the situation is not contentious before you choose a time to talk.
— Approach the subject calmly and objectively, with a positive, prayerful attitude.
Acquire a clear, accurate understanding of the situation before you speak.
— Gather the facts and separate out emotional reactions.
— Listen to objective viewpoints.
— Speak with only those involved.
• Ask permission before you speak.
— “Could I make a suggestion?”
— “May I make an observation?”
— “I have some thoughts on this situation, if you are interested.”
Assume responsibility for any wrongful actions on your part.
— “I was wrong to have spoken to you as I did, and I ask your forgiveness.”
— “I was wrong to have jumped to a hasty, inaccurate conclusion. I should have gotten all the facts before I formulated any opinion.”
— “I was wrong to have taken my anger out on you. Will you please forgive me?”
Avoid analyzing another person’s feelings or actions.
— Clarify actions: “Tell me, from your perspective, what happened and what you did.”
— Identify feelings: “Tell me what you were feeling when ( ).” “How were you feeling when you …?” “How are you feeling now?”
— Stick to the facts: “I saw you.…” “I understood you to say.…” “If I heard you correctly, you felt.…”
Apply the “sandwich approach” in voicing your criticism.
— Give the person the bread of praise: “I appreciate your strong work ethic.” “You are a very gifted and competent person.” “I recognize that you are a hard worker.”
— Add the meat of criticism: “What I need from you right now is for you to speak to me without raising your voice. I feel disrespected and forced into a yelling match in order to resolve our differences.”
— Finish with the bread of encouragement: “I am confident you can work with me on this.” “I know we can get through this together.” “I know you can help me in this way.”
Aim your criticism at the specific, problematic behavior, not at the person.
— “I appreciate your tremendous efforts, but I am having a problem with the sarcastic comments being made.”
— “I enjoy visiting with you, but I need to be able to talk with fewer interruptions so that I can keep my train of thought.”
— “I love your sense of humor, but I really don’t enjoy off-color jokes and sexual innuendos.”
Abstain from negative phrases containing “always” or “never.”
— Don’t say, “You’ll never change.”
— Don’t say, “You always do this to me.”
— Don’t say, “You never speak to me with respect.”
Address only one current problematic behavior.
— Don’t bring up a list of offenses.
— Don’t belabor your point. Simply state it clearly and concisely: “I need you to be truthful with me about ( ).” “I need you to speak to me in a calm and controlled manner.”
— Don’t dredge up previously addressed problems.
Assume some responsibility for finding a solution to the problem.
— Help formulate a plan for change: “What do you think we need to do?” “How do you think we can resolve this problem together and move on?” “I want to work with you in any way that will be helpful to you.”
— Consider the undesirable behavior as the problem, not the person engaging in the behavior. “I’m not looking at this as your problem, but as our problem because it is affecting our relationship. I want us to have the best relationship possible.”
— Offer encouragement and emotional support: “What can I do to help?” “What do you need from me?”
Approach God together with a united heart.
— Thank God together for His love, grace, and mercy and for the opportunity to honor Him in your relationship.
— Ask God to protect your relationship from petty differences, to guard your communication, and to increase your love for one another.
— Commit to God to be honest, open, and encouraging with one another and to faithfully seek God’s wisdom in your decision making.
“Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.”
(Proverbs 28:26)

J. How to Respond to Criticism from Significant People

Job is no insignificant person … as formerly the most renowned man among all the people of the East. But the God of the universe recognizes that his critical spirit needs to be curtailed when it comes to demanding his “day in court.”
In reading the book of Job, we can see there is no doubt God delights in what He has created … the earth and its foundation, sea and sky, wind and rain, thunder and lightning, snow and hail, darkness and light, deserts and stars, times and seasons, fish and fowl. His creation now fully put on display before His critical servant Job, God further inquires: “Who then is able to stand against me? Who has a claim against me that I must pay?” The obvious answer is—no one! And then God makes a statement that should silence all of His critics, “Everything under heaven belongs to me” (Job 41:10–11).
In your own life, think about those who have possessed a critical spirit, whether it’s the “tongue-lashing friend” or the “never-satisfied” father or others who wound. They make their “targets” highly vulnerable to others who have a critical spirit.
Therefore, don’t let destructive criticism weaken your emotional state. God promises He will bring good from everything … and that includes negative people. For the Christian, one inherent good in any unjust suffering is that it provides the opportunity to emulate Christ’s example before the eyes of unbelievers who need to know Him.…
“It is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God.… If you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”
(1 Peter 2:19–21)
5 Significant Criticizers

#1—Critical Parents

Question: “My parents were so critical of me in my childhood that when I became an adult, I withdrew physically and emotionally. I love my parents and have tried reconciliation, but how is this possible when there is no change? Now that I am pregnant, I feel that I must withdraw to protect my child.”
Answer: You are to be commended for seeking reconciliation even though your parents have not changed. Typically, people do not change unless something motivates them to act differently. Your pregnancy could provide that motivation.
Schedule a time to talk with your parents about the kind of interaction you desire to have with them.
When you are all together …
• Express your love and appreciation for them.
• Express your hurt over their frequent critical words. Give specific examples.
• Express your strong commitment to create a positive, encouraging environment for your child.
• Express your decision to spend time with them. Explain your boundary: Either you will leave or they will have to leave if they become negative and critical.
• Express your resolve to reflect the character and attitude of Christ toward them.
• Express your desire that they speak lovingly and positively to you and to their grandchild.
Remember, everyone has three God-given inner needs—for love, significance, and security. When we feel like we are lacking in one or more of these areas, we can seek to get these needs met through negative behavior. A critical person is often seeking to meet a deep need for significance. Knowing this, you can seek to encourage and build up your parents in all you say and do.…
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
(Romans 14:19)

#2—Critical Spouse

Question: “How can I deal with my critical, perfectionistic spouse? He was raised by a critical mother, and I was raised by a critical father.”
Answer: Often, a person who is hypercritical has an underlying need to be in control or to feel significant. Your husband may be doing what he knows to do from the modeling he received growing up. Typically, children who grow up with criticism learn to be critical. And children who grow up with encouragement, learn to be encouraging. You cannot expect your husband to copy behavior he has not routinely seen.
• Engage him in a conversation in which you express your desire for the two of you to break the destructive patterns of interaction you both learned as children.
• Turn this problem into a project. Both of you must make a commitment to each other and to God to compliment each other about something different each day for the next 12 weeks—writing each compliment down. During these weeks, no words of criticism are to be spoken. Over time, you’ll see a positive transformation before your very eyes. And you will both learn to be encouraging and complimentary of one another.
The Bible says …
“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.…”
(Hebrews 10:24)

#3—Critical Friends

Question: “How can I keep from being negatively affected by two verbally abusive people who attack my Christian commitment?”
Answer: Realize, you are not the one with a problem. Those being verbally abusive are the ones with the problem.
• Repeat out loud to yourself three times: “They have a problem. I am not going to let their problem become my problem.”
• Rehearse these two statements every day for two weeks until these truths give you peace and your hurt and anger subside.
• Recognize their attacks as a reflection of their unmet inner needs.
• Request that they respect your decision to be a follower of Christ and that they refrain from speaking words of criticism that continue to cause you pain.
• Release them to God and pray for them to have a life-changing relationship with Him.
• Remember, Jesus stated that we would be persecuted, but in the midst of persecution, we would be blessed.…
“Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”
(Luke 6:22)

#4—Critical Manager

Question: “How can I deal with my manager who is excessively critical of me? I feel beat up all the time!”
Answer: While we are to honor our authorities and heed their justifiable criticism, we are not called to submit to verbal or emotional abuse. Jesus confronted the religious leaders of His day, but in doing so, He did not have a critical spirit toward them.
Prayerfully attempt to draw your supervisor out about your job performance and professional relationship. Humbly ask questions such as:
• Have I offended you in any way?
• Is there something I’ve done that you’re displeased with?
• In what areas do I need to show improvement?
Your performance review would be an ideal time to raise these questions, but you could also request a private meeting with your manager and say, “I may have a blind spot and don’t see what others see. I honestly want to be the very best employee I can be. What could I do to be the greatest asset for our organization? I value your opinion and will work hard to improve.” Then listen with an open heart to the answer and bring what you hear before the Lord.
“Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.”
(Proverbs 21:23)

#5—Critical Church Leaders

Question: “Several leaders in my church have judgmental spirits and continually criticize other members. I try to be pleasant and forgiving, but is this the way the leaders in church should act?”
Answer: For a spiritual leader to be critical is contrary to Scripture. The Bible says the “shepherds of the flock” are to be humble examples of Christ. Examine yourself and the other people in your church.
Possibly, you are in the wrong church. You could be in a church that is legalistic—one that doesn’t allow the grace of God or the love of Christ to flourish. Ask the Lord to lead you in either bringing the matter to a church leader whom you respect or consider finding a new church. The Bible says …
“To the elders among you.… Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”
(1 Peter 5:1–3)

K. How to Triumph with Truth

Truth … has permeated Job to the core. He is stunned, silenced, and saddened. How impertinent … how insolent … criticizing the Most High God.
To the Almighty, he responds, “You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.… My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” And this revelation prompts an additional admission … “Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:3, 5–6).
With Job’s declaration of repentance, God’s heart is moved to befriend … and bless. The “greatest man in all the East” becomes even greater, with God bestowing upon him twice as much as he had before—the recipient of double blessing.
God also blesses Job with seven more sons and three daughters—a gift of grace and kindness following the 10 who had been previously killed. But it’s curious that there isn’t a double blessing where Job’s children are concerned … there isn’t provision for 14 more sons and six more daughters. The subtle message from the Lord: The previous children aren’t dead; they’re alive with Him.
The book of Job teaches much about the dangers of a critical spirit and makes us mindful to pursue having a caring, compassionate spirit.
When critical words come to your mind, you can move in the opposite direction.
When critical words attack your character, turn away from your offender and turn toward God. He is an immovable presence in our lives. In the face of extreme criticism, focus on what God says about you in His Word rather than what your critic says. You can triumph over criticism … with truth.
Adopt the attitude of Jesus, who entrusted His life to the Father—the One who judges justly.…
“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”
(1 Peter 2:23)
The question, then, becomes: “How?” How can we so have the mind and perspective of Christ that we are not pierced by sharp, penetrating words … not wounded by critical, sarcastic statements … not burned by blazing, fiery accusations? Jesus said …
“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
(John 8:31–32)

Truth That Triumphs over Criticism

The Word of God teaches us that …
• God provides mercy, grace, and help in our times of need.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
• God suffered for us and bids us to bear the disgrace He bore.
“Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore” (Hebrews 13:12–13).
• God brought good from Jesus’ bearing the brunt of cynical critics, and He will bring good from unjust criticism aimed at us.
“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
• God secured our healing from the wounds of criticism by being wounded Himself.
“ ‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed’ ” (1 Peter 2:24).
• Enduring criticism identifies us with Jesus, who endured criticism for us.
“… fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2–3).
• Suffering the grief of unjust criticism proves our faith.
“… for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6–7).
• Finding God’s comfort in the midst of criticism equips us to comfort others.
“… the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort … comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:3–5).
• Bearing the pressure of criticism reveals the life of Christ in us.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8–10).
• Facing the fiery trial of criticism perfects perseverance and leads us to maturity and completeness of character.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2–4).
Job’s Epilogue: The Rest of the Story
Throughout the centuries, Job has been heralded as a suffering saint. And, indeed, his struggles are monumental. But so is his reward.
At the conclusion of Job’s all-consuming suffering, along with the critical clamor of his detractors silenced, the Bible tells us, “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.… After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so Job died, an old man and full of years” (Job 42:12, 16–17).
Full of fruitful years … full of tested faith … full of God’s forgiveness.
On this side of eternity, we cannot comprehend the intricate tapestry God is weaving from the tormenting threads of criticism that He sovereignly allows in our lives. However, we can know that, like Job, as we surrender to Him, we will experience the refining of our character and the perfect plan for our lives.
As we learn to tune out all other voices but His, what comfort to find …
“He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.”
(Job 23:10)
To look with a “critical eye”
is to pay close attention to detail—
and this can be most helpful.
But to look with a “critical spirit”
means to microscopically focus on faults—
and this is only harmful.
Thus to save us from this sickness,
let’s see one another as the Lord sees us …
through the compassionate eyes of Christ.
—June Hunt
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