Friday, September 7, 2012

Fast From Criticism

             I am going to take you on a journey today, a journey the Lord started with me a few weeks back. I was having some issues with some people in my life and the Lord showed me that I was being critical, and falling into an attitude of judging. We started that morning in Romans 2:1. Paul writes, “Therefore, you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself, for you who judge practice the same things.” When I first read this, I was upset that the Lord would show me this passage. I was convicted, but I wanted to make the excuse to Him that my judging was not judging at all, but discernment to distinguish the believers from the non-believers. By now you would think that I have learned that excuses to the Lord God doesn’t get you very far.

            He showed me that to judge meant to “distinguish, choose, or give an opinion upon something or someone, to criticize them.” It means that when we call into question any motive of another person, and give our opinion on what we feel is right and true, then we have just judged. Judging others is deciding that their faults are worse than ours, and therefore, our opinions of the situation are better. Makes me out to seem very high-minded and in return the person I am pronouncing my opinions upon have been hurt by my “words of edification.” There is a fine line that we need to walk, or we will fall into judgment and leave edification by the wayside.

            Jesus spoke very diligently on the matter of judging others. In Matthew 7:1-2, He says, “Judge not, lest you be judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged, and with what measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” Jesus is warning us of having a critical spirit. None of us like to be judged, and we get all defensive when someone tries to pass their opinions off as “helping us” when we know in all points we are being judged.

            Jesus is telling us to be wary of not only judging, but of the critical spirit that comes upon us when we do judge. There is a person in my life that drives me absolutely crazy. This person gets under my skin more than anyone else. Being in the same room with this person makes my skin crawl. But the Lord showed me that my “discernment”, my “looking for their fruit” became critical, so that no matter what this person did, no matter what good deed they accomplished, I was determined to question their motives. When we begin to question the motives of others, we have fallen into judgmental attitudes and it will lead us to become critical of this person.

            When I judge, I condemn the person for something he or she has done. I am pronouncing to everyone that his or her actions are wrong, and I am setting the measuring stick for how I will be judged. Paul said that what we are judging others for, we are guilty of ourselves. Jesus paints a picture of this for us in verse 3 of Matthew 7. Jesus asks us, “Why do you look at the speck in your brothers eye, but do not consider the plank in your own?” The reason we see the faults of others is because in us is that same fault. The way the Lord showed me how to understand this verse was to look into the eyes of another person. He asked me to look closely and then told me that what I see is a reflection of myself. And that is exactly what I saw. When you look closely into the eyes of someone else, you will find an exact miniature of yourself. He showed me that I see the sin in others because that sin is in me. Therefore, I have no right to judge or be critical of anyone at all, ever.

            As the weeks have gone by, I have found that critical spirit to be in more areas of my life than I at first realized. Not only was I being critical of others, but also I was being very critical of myself. My critical spirit has led me to be judgmental of others, their walks and their motives. A very dangerous place to be too!

            The Lord was working with me, and showing me that some of the thoughts that I have been having are critical and they are hurting some relationships in my life. He showed me last night that He has so much more for me, and there is a way to step out of this critical spirit. 

            I have been reading this book of journal entries by a lady who lived many years ago. I picked up the book at a thrift store, and thought it looked interesting. Most of the stuff she has written I kind already knew, but I was being encouraged by her love for Christ and the interesting life she had lead. Last night, however, the Lord used this book to show me what my critical and judgmental spirit looks like, and He showed me how to get rid of it.

            Catherine Marshall (A Closer walk with Thee) writes, “The Lord continues to deal with me about my critical spirit, convicting me that I have been wrong to judge any person or situation; (she then quotes Matthew 7:1-2). One morning last week He gave me an assignment: for one day I was to go on a “fast” from criticism. I was not to criticize about anything.” I was intrigued by this thought, and continued to read about her “fast from criticism”. She stated that she went to a lunch with some friends where opinions flew fast and she stayed quiet the whole time. Although her desire was to share her opinions, she realized that her opinions and criticism were not missed. She realized that her critical opinions were really judgments being passed upon everyone and anything.

            As I thought about what she wrote, and pondered on the lesson that the Lord was teaching me, I realized that I too needed to go on a “fast from criticism”. As I prayed this morning, the Lord gave me this scripture, “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5.

            When I judge or become critical of others I am exalting myself into the position of God. I am pronouncing that I know best, that I see best, and I need to fix that person. Not only does my critical spirit hurt others, it hurts me as well. Your mind is a battlefield, and every time we let criticism enter about anyone, we are allowing evil to prevail against God. We are to take every thought captive. As soon as the thought comes, we need to hold it up to Jesus- and ask Him- is this from you, or is this my critical spirit?

            I am going to begin my “fast from criticism” and take hold of the promise of God that He will help me bring down these strongholds of judging others and bring me into a place where every thought, need, desire, dream and idea are His and from Him. We are at war, ladies, let us not give way to critical opinions and judgmental hearts. But let us see as Christ sees, and see that person as someone who Christ died for. Remember, when you see their sin- you are seeing a reflection of yourself. If you are like me and find yourself being critical of others, join me on the fast, and let us not allow any criticism to enter our lips. As these thoughts come into our minds, let’s place them where they belong- in the captivity of Christ and His Cross. Amen.