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What Is the Curse and Consequence of a Critical Spirit? - PART 1

by John Ankerberg


Criticism is “an act of criticizing; to judge as a critic; to find fault; to blame or condemn." A critical spirit dwells on the negative, looks for flaws rather than positive qualities in others.

They are constantly complaining or criticizing and usually upset with something or somebody. They often have little control over their tongue, their temper and have tendencies for gossip, slander, strife and malice. These are some of the sins spoken of by Paul in Romans 1:29-32.


Have you ever noticed: We tend to judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions?

What is a critical spirit? A “critical spirit,” is an obsessive attitude of criticism and fault-finding, which seeks to tear down others rather than build up. Destructive criticism is different from constructive feedback. The only criticism that is ever constructive is that which speaks the truth in love, to build up or edify another person for his or her good and for God’s glory.


What are some characteristics of constructive or healthy feedback?

  1. It is descriptive rather than evaluative, reducing the need for others to react defensively.

  2. It is specific rather than general; as a rule, the more specific we are, the more helpful we are.

  3. It is directed toward behavior that the receiver can control or do something about.

  4. It is well timed. Trust needs to be established, but generally the sooner the better.

  5. It is solicited rather than imposed. Feedback is most appreciated when it is requested.

  6. It is checked with the receiver in order to insure clear, factual or accurate communication.

  7. It takes into account the needs of the giver and receiver of the feedback – truth spoken in love.

  8. It is always expressed face-to-face and never as gossip behind another person’s back or on social media.

A critical spirit dwells on the negative, looks for flaws rather than positive qualities in others. They are constantly complaining or criticizing and usually upset with something or somebody. They often have little control over their tongue, their temper and have tendencies for gossip, slander, strife and malice. These are some of the sins spoken of by Paul in Romans 1:29-32.

Do you know anyone who has a critical spirit? But the question that we really need to consider is: Do you have a critical spirit, and if so, how would you know?

If you have a critical or judgmental spirit, you would probably refer to it euphemistically? You would probably refer to this poisonous character quality by saying something like: “I’m just being discerning,” or “I’m just being honest,” or “Get real, I’m just telling it like it is.” Do you ruminate on your negative feelings, thinking about how bad or wrong something or someone was? Do you say things like: “I can’t believe he was such a bad listener; man, is he full of himself.” Or: She is so vain.” Or: Look at her clothes! I wonder how much money she spends on her wardrobe.” Sometimes the negativity of our hearts finds its way to the tongue, and other times it just stays in our hearts. Either way, the root sin of a critical spirit is the same.

A critical spirit can be very detrimental and damaging to a person’s personal faith or to the health and vitality of a local congregation.

Over time, if left unchecked, it prevents us from seeing, appreciating and enjoying all that’s truly good in the world – all that God is actively doing. It is the exact opposite of wearing “rose-colored glasses.” A critical spirit is like putting on sunglasses when the day is full of clouds: everything in life begins to take on a dark, drab hue. The critical person comes to expect, even to hope, that everything will have something wrong with it. Taken to the extreme, a critical person can assume the role of the “devil’s advocate.” One’s very identity can be marked by this “need” for negativity. But critical people aren’t just hurting themselves; they are also negatively affecting others as well.


PART 2. To be posted 07.07.19

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF A CRITICAL SPIRIT?

WHAT ARE SOME CRUCIAL CHANGES A CRITICAL PERSON NEEDS TO CONSIDER MAKING?

SOURCE: John Ankerberg Show. "How to Understand and Approach Someone with a Critical Spirit"

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