Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Critical Attitude

     The study on a critical attitude has been very convicting for me. I really struggle with being critical. I tend to be very analytical, and it's very easy for me to slide right into being critical. I'm not normally verbally critical, but will usually replay my critical thoughts and dwell on them. I'm often hesitant to share my opinion with others when asked because of my own tendency towards criticism.

     James MacDonald points out in the Bible study that a critical spirit goes against who God created us to be. He created us to live in fellowship with Him and bring Him glory. We can't do either one of those things while having a critical attitude. MacDonald defines criticism as "dwelling on the perceived faults of another with no view to their good." (pp. 90). The perceived part cut right to my heart. God  brought to mind people in my life I've been critical of because they're not meeting my standard. My criticism has nothing to do with God's standard of right and wrong, and everything to do with what I think they should be doing. As I've been praying and working through my critical attitudes, I'm realizing how much I've elevated my own personal preferences. I have a lot of work to do with God in this area. Now that I'm aware of this, I spend a lot of time praying that God will show me when I'm allowing my personal preference to lead me to criticism. The other part of that definition that cut to my heart was with no view to their good. God brought people to mind that I've been extremely critical of and I've not had their good on my heart. I find the more I pray for those people, the easier it is for me to let go of my criticism. Now I'm praying that God will give me the desire and opportunities to be an encouragement to those I'm tempted to criticize. I've been praying that Psalm 19:14 would be the desire and reality of my heart. "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer."

     MacDonald also talks about how criticism is a mask for other heart issues such as unforgiveness, bitterness, envy/resentment, careless/thoughtless words, or pride. I can definitely see where some or all of these things have been the deeper issue with my critical attitude. I spend a lot of time while I'm running praying about these deeper issues and meditating on Scriptures that speak truth to these areas. I'm really seeing the more I pray for these people and pray about my own issues, the easier it is to just love those people as they are and to extend grace to them and myself in our shortcomings. I'm also realizing that just because I hold myself to an incredibly high standard in certain areas of life doesn't mean I should impose my convictions on others. God convicts all of us about different areas in our lives and to different degrees determined by our own weaknesses and struggles. I can't impose my personal convictions on other people and then be critical when they don't live up to my standard. God may not have spoken to them about that area the way He's spoken to me. 

     The truth is that I will always find things to be critical of when I'm looking for something to be wrong. I can't live in contentment if I'm always looking for something to be wrong. I can't work on my relationship with Lord and deal with my own sin if I'm constantly focused on others and looking for faults. I need to take care of myself and let the Holy Spirit do His job. I also need to be focusing on how I can spur others onto love and good deeds rather than tearing down what I perceive as being wrong.

"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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
Ephesians 4:29-32 (ESV)

No comments:

Post a Comment