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::Devotional:: ‘The Dangers of a Critical Spirit’

March 5, 2010

Is the glass half empty or is the glass half full?  Is there half a pack of gum gone or half a pack of gum left?  These might seem like strange questions but everyone one of us is categorized by them.  If we tend to think that the glass is empty and the gum is gone we’re pessimists; we see the worst.  If we tend to think that the glass is full and there is gum left we’re optimists; we see the best.  Either camp we’re in, Satan has a way of nurturing a critical spirit in our lives if we allow him.  If we let it go on long enough we find ourselves not even caring that there is a glass or gum on the table.

God has delivered the Holy Spirit to dwell within us and Satan is trying to promote a critical spirit to take over.  We’re the determining factor believe it or not.  The Lord has given us victory and therefore Satan can’t claim any ground that we don’t surround to him in our lives.  When we find ourselves seeking the worst in situations and dwelling in the critical, we had better take inventory of our lives because Satan has developed some strong holds in our hearts while we’ve been pointing our fingers.

How does a critical spirit start?

It’s not difficult for a critical spirit to start.  That seed is planted in us from the very beginning; it is part of our sin nature.  Some of us are obviously more negative than others by our pessimist/optimist tendencies, but all of us can develop a critical spirit.  The miracle grow to the critical spirit is a calloused heart towards the Lord.  A calloused heart is like a calloused hand, rough and insensitive to touch.  The Bible says our hearts become calloused when we begin to close our eyes and ears to the Lord.  In other words, when we turn away from prayer and the study of his word.

For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.  Matthew 13:15

What are the dangers of a critical spirit?

What isn’t dangerous about a critical spirit?  First, a critical spirit is not from God.  It is something that is tied to our sin nature the Satan uses to establish strongholds in our life.  Strongholds are like fortresses of defense from which Satan is able to launch attacks on us.  Attacks of doubt, discouragement, deceit, and depression.  Because they are fortresses they are not easily removed.  They are established in foundation as a foothold, or claimed ground, and are quickly built into strongholds.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians:

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.  Ephesians 4:26-27

Secondly a critical spirit grieves the Holy Spirit.  Think of the type of grieving that goes on when a young man’s life is cut short and his mother weeps over his casket.  That’s about as vivid a picture as I can paint but it’s no comparison to the grief a critical spirit causes to the Holy Spirit.  Remember, the Holy Spirit is overjoyed when the fruit of the spirit is displayed in our lives.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Galatians 5:22-23

How do you get rid of a critical spirit?

It is important to note that getting rid of a critical spirit is not an option or suggestion from the Lord, it is a command.  Commands demand obedience on our part.  A critical spirit is a serious spiritual matter and needs to be dealt with promptly.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Ephesians 4:30

Getting rid of a critical spirit requires us to be intentional about it.  In other words, it doesn’t happen automatically just because we want it to.  Strongholds are not easily defeated.  However, there is hope because the Bible says that “greater is he that is within me than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)  With the Lords help, the stronghold will be defeated and the critical spirit will be slain.

As with any serious spiritual matter it is important to look at two main components of the Christian life; our time in the word and our time in prayer.  Those must be established as good habits in our lives before we can ever begin our assault on the critical spirit.  There is a simple formula to establish these habits if they are not part of our lives already.  Read daily, pray daily.  That’s it.  That alone will begin to rip the callouses of our hearts off and restore our sensitivity to the Lord.  The more we read and the more we pray, the less inclined we are to be critical.  I read one commentary on this subject that said those who are inclined to point the finger are less inclined to bow the knee.  If that is true than the opposite should be true as well.  Those who are inclined to bow the knee are less inclined to point the finger.

Finally, the Bible gives specific instructions as to what sorts of things need to be removed from our lives on a daily basis.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  Ephesians 4:31-32

Remember, there is victory in Jesus!

-Stay Rooted Col. 2:7-

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