Criticism - From a Trained and Practiced Expert
Criticism creates an atmosphere that distorts my perceptions of God.
Criticism induces me into taking God's place as a judge of character.
Criticism is based on false notions about how God deals with me.
Criticism divides the power and influence of others in an attempt to debilitate them and give me an advantage.
Practicing criticism engenders a picture of God who does to me what I am doing to others.
Criticism poisons the life-giving atmosphere and spoils the nourishment engendered by praise and gratitude.
Criticism is the counterfeit employment of my powers of discernment given to me as a gift originally intended for intercession.
Criticism blinds me to my own faults while amplifying the faults of others. Thus it tends to skew my view of what is really going on.
Criticism hardens my heart because it displaces love and compassion from my heart which are vital for keeping it thriving and tender.
Criticism gives me a false thrill of 'righteousness' by measuring my own life and actions against others whom I suppose are not doing so well as I.
Criticism casts others in a negative light that makes me feel better by contrast. It frames them into a narrow classification that I define, giving me opportunities to denigrate them without giving them opportunity to defend or explain themselves.
Criticism relies heavily on my own interpretations of what is right and wrong which generally becomes more and more rigid and inflexible over time.
Criticism is like a fast-growing cancer, a dis-ease that not only infects my own life and can quickly spread to more and more areas of my thinking, but is highly contagious to others around me as well.
Criticism is an attempt to feel more important, more valuable by stripping away from others a certain sense of their value and importance. By diminishing others and their reputation I subconsciously feel like somehow I can add to my own. Of course, if I thought about it that plainly it would be absurd – which is why it must remain largely subconscious.
Criticism may be one of the most difficult diseases to cure because it is so insistent that there is nothing inside of me in need of being cured. It is always in denial that the majority of the problem is with me while seeking to focus on fixing the obvious faults of those I am criticizing.
Criticism bolsters it supposed legitimacy by pointing out the truthfulness of the facts that it can use to prove the faults of others. Because it is based on 'truth' defined as provable facts, it claims that truth is truth and thus is fair game to use as ammunition against those who are obviously in the wrong.
Criticism is blaming others for problems which helps to mask my own responsibility for the contributions to problems that come from my life.
Criticism keeps the focus on other's sins as a means of keeping attention away from my own faults. By blaming others and focusing on their sins, it is easier to avoid facing the convictions I may be feeling and the pain that is sure to happen to me if I have to admit that my faults may be greater than theirs.
Criticism is the natural expression of pride, either open or hidden pride.
Criticism is very often the fuel for arguments. Arguments are the duels between people who refuse to humble themselves before each other and instead seek to gain the advantage over another by force of will or intellect.
Criticism diminishes the emotions needed to deepen friendships. It is like acid that eats away at the tender threads of love and sympathy that bind our hearts to each other.
Criticism is habit-forming. It can quickly become a full-blown addiction with all the destructive effects that come with any addiction.
Criticism can easily become such a normal way of life that one can begin to feel guilty if they do not indulge in it regularly.
Criticism is very self-justifying. It can amass a great array of facts to vindicate its positions and assertions and develops tremendous resistance to any self-exposure. God calls this 'hardening of the heart'.
When criticism is pointed out as a problem, it immediately cries 'foul' and blames the one pointing it out as a criticizer themselves thus shifting attention away as quickly as possible.
Criticism is anti-humility.
Criticism can produce a growing sense of piety that gives a false sense of security in religion.
Criticism sometimes tries to wear the cloak of assumed humility to reinforce and amplify its effect on others and shield itself from detection.
Criticism refuses to reexamine its rigid interpretations of Scripture or theology or anything that might undermine its assertions and traditions. It often appeals to the 'good old days', when things were more plain and when right and wrong were supposedly more clear-cut. It appeals to the illusion that our forefathers had a clearer sense of truth and that all their beliefs were pure and complete. It assumes that anything new is suspect at best, or more likely evil simply because it is different from our preferences.
Criticism fiercely defends the comfort zones of those who believe we must return to the prejudices of the past to rediscover real truth and righteousness.
Criticism rationalizes the use of insinuation, innuendo and quasi-deception to amplify the supposed sins of others to make them more obvious. But it becomes very angry when those same methods are used against the one engaged in such criticism.
Criticism finds little problem in exaggerating faults and jumping to conclusions about the motives of others while believing that my motives are much more pure and noble.
Criticism is debilitating to the affections and slowly eats away at more and more relationships until it leaves me lashing out in anger and wondering why no one is willing to be close to me. I then conclude that standing up for what is right will always result in being a loner and that isolation is just the price one has to pay for being righteous.
The spirit of criticism slowly petrifies the heart over time, eating out the soft parts and replacing them with hard minerals that have the same appearance as a healthy heart but are inflexible and unfeeling.
Criticism focuses on the externals more than the internals and causes me to assume that I am capable of reading the condition of other people's hearts through the mistakes they make or the conclusions I make about their motives from my interpretations of their words and actions.
Criticism generally makes statements and harsh declarations instead of asking questions with an open mind to carefully consider options different from my current perceptions.
Criticism and finding faults in others helps to make me feel better by contrast. It is the standard 'blame game' that pretty much everyone is so familiar with, where our first reaction to our own faults is to excuse them by noting the similar faults of someone else. If I can make other's faults more noticeable than my own, then I can feel a little more righteous than if I were to allow my own faults to be exposed.
Criticism always leads to anger, for anger is an attempt to change others or even myself through the use of force, fear and intimidation.
Criticism is part of the fruit or evidence that comes from offense. When I find myself focusing on the faults of others it is a sure sign that I am allowing a spirit of offense to color my views of those people. I have fallen into the trap of Satan and I am already beginning to experience the effects of deception.
A critical attitude precludes any option of being able to genuinely forgive. Yet forgiveness is the only way I can ever become free from the guilt and shame of the sins I am trying to avoid in myself through my criticism of others.
Indulging in criticizing others is a sign that I feel that God condemns and criticizes me. I criticize others as a reflection of how I feel God deals with me.
Criticism very often cloaks itself in the coverings of religious fervor. I become deceived into believing passionately that it is my God-imposed responsibility to point out the faults of others or else God is going to condemn me for failing to carry out the responsibility He has laid upon me by showing me their sins. Thus, a critical spirit is very often found within many religions as the standard means of avoiding the pricks of conscience within ourselves.
Criticism is a passion that counterfeits the true passionate love of God for us. The intensity involved in pointing out faults, either in others or even in myself apart from the true convictions of the Holy Spirit, is a diversion that prevents me from experiencing and embracing the real passion of God that only can bring the changes that are so needed.
The atmosphere of criticism dispels the atmosphere of grace needed to heal and restore God's image in His children. The atmosphere around me becomes infected with the poison from the roots of bitterness that are deeply embedded within my soul.
Criticism is fueled by the guilt I feel within my own heart that I do not want to face. Because I don't want to admit my own faults openly and be accountable for them, I find it numbing and relieving to publicize the faults of others, particularly those whom I think may be exposing my faults. This is very much like the drug approach to numbing pain instead of dealing with the underlying causes of the pain.
Criticism is so much like a drug that I can easily become addicted to it. It is mind-altering and allows me to feel so much better about myself by altering my sense of reality and suppressing the pain I will surely feel if I allow the Spirit's convictions to have their intended effects in my own life.
The ease with which I find I can write all of this frankly frightens me. I have long known that I have a generational problem of criticism that goes back a long ways in my family's history. But the tenacity of this problem runs so deep in my own psyche that I realize it is impossible for me to escape its control over me without miraculous intervention on God's part in my life. My own heart must experience more radical encounters with the grace of God and my picture of God must still be seriously transformed far more than has yet taken place.
This spirit of criticism is so pervasive that to even address it often induces it yet again. Criticism is no respecter of persons and can be turned internally nearly as easy as it can focus on others. Criticism can become focused on my own faults in such a way that I feel hopeless, blinding me to perceiving the overwhelming amount of grace and power waiting to change me through knowing God's love and forgiveness for myself and experiencing the affects of that personally.
Criticism is the opposite of grace.
Criticism is the fragrance of the fruit of legalism.
Criticism can only allow for superficial forgiveness but continues to harbor suspicions that underneath nothing has really changed. This left-brain type of forgiveness is a counterfeit of the forgiveness that must take place in the heart that is far deeper than simply excusing or over-looking offenses.
Our faulty theology about forgiveness greatly contributes to our rampant indulgence in criticism.
Most of the teachings I have heard all of my life about forgiveness only deal with the external aspects but fail to address or heal the pain incurred from the deep wounds in the heart. Because our religion is largely left-brain, fact-based, external and behaviorally focused, forgiveness becomes more of a technical procedure rather than a heart-based bonding experience.
Superficial forgiveness has little to no effect on bringing healing and closure to the deep heart wounds that we have received. The result of not experiencing genuine forgiveness in the heart is revealed by the symptoms of a critical attitude that springs up from the roots of bitterness caused by unresolved pain deep under the surface.
As long as my heart perceptions of God include feelings of condemnation and false notions about His grace and love towards me, I will be susceptible to illusions and fears that induce a critical spirit in me. It is becoming more and more clear to me that to become free from the tyranny of a critical spirit that hold me hostage at the heart level, I must come to know the real truth about God and believe in my heart that He is not treating me the way I treat others or how they treat me. This may be easy to say but it must take place at a much deeper level than just words and intellectual perception.
I have years of clear examples of the effects of a spirit of criticism in the life of my own Dad. The increasingly damaged relationships, the estrangement and strains on everyone around him as he became more and more strident in his criticism of others serves as a clear example of the maturity of the fruit of such caustic sap flowing through the veins. Quite often when I find myself indulging or being tempted to indulge in the same activities, I am reminded of the withering results that were made plain in his experience and am warned to avoid going further down that same path myself.
I also have the wonderful privilege of the example of the transformation that took place in his life the last two years we spent together before he died. Because of the amazing power of forgiveness and love that snapped the control of bitterness and criticism over his heart, he also became an example of some of the effects that I need to experience even more so in my own life.
Though I feel like I have been hard-wired to be critical and judgmental, I know that this reflects a false system of thinking and relating that will doom me if not dealt with decisively. A counterfeit is always very close to the genuine which is why the spirit of criticism thrives so readily among the religious. What I feel that I need is to see much more clearly the aspects of the counterfeit system; but in reality what I need to experience is what still feels largely foreign to my heart, the experience of being loved, cherished, valued and nurtured – and all of this unconditionally. That is what brought about the transformation in my Dad and is the only thing that can rescue anyone including myself.
God, I appreciate You clarifying this a little more in my thinking. You know far better than I how much I need to experience it much deeper in my own heart. It is helpful to logically begin to see all of this, but what I need most is the heart-work that can only occur as the real truth about You begins to seep into the much deeper levels of my soul.
Because I know that the way I treat others always reflects my own heart perceptions of You, that means I need to admit that my heart's opinions about You are still very sick and perverted. I cannot change my heart – I am helpless to transform myself and You have made that very plain in Your Word. All I can do is throw myself upon Your mercy, ask to see more clearly Your kindness and receive a new heart and a new spirit from You. I desperately need a heart transplant and I claim Your promises for this as laid out in Ezekiel 36. Please fulfill in my life Your Word, Your promises, Your reality. Like Mary when informed by the angel that she was going to have the Messiah inside of her miraculously, I cry out to you, “Let it be unto me according to what You have spoken!”
My heart right now is saying, “I just want to let You love me. Remove my resistance and my unbelief. Rewire my mind and my heart and break the negative habits that have held me hostage for so many years. Fill me with Your sweet Spirit and so flood my soul with the real truth about You so that there will be no more room for the lies I have cherished about You for so long.”
You are my God, my Savior, my Boss, my Provider, my Lover, my covenant Friend, my King.