Way back in the 1980’s, I used to enjoy watching the famous film review duo, Siskel and Ebert. They had a weekly show called At the Movies with Siskel and Ebert that I looked forward to watching so I could keep up with the latest flicks. You see, I grew up in a time that internet sites like Plugged In didn’t exist. I had to take a chance and watch a movie based on very little information or I would wait until Siskel and Ebert did their weekly review. I enjoyed watching them because these men would pick apart movies and in the end, give the film a “thumbs up or thumbs down.” There judgment really came in handy so I didn’t waste my time and hard-earned babysitting money. These guys were professionals that did their job by giving their opinion based on their perception of the acting and plot of a movie. Siskel and Ebert were critics doing what they were paid to do. They gave what we might call “constructive criticism” that involves giving feedback that was meant to help their audience.
Movie, food, and other kinds of critics are beneficial. Even within the church, we are to exercise discernment and value sound judgment. But, there is another type of critic that is not so helpful. There is a critic that runs around the local church passing judgment on her sister in Christ. You will also find her in her home, nagging and picking her husband apart like a vulture. This woman, like the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14, trusts in herself and treats others with contempt. She is thankful she is not like the other women at church that are not as gifted as she is in ministry or in raising children. When someone has different ideas or is just plain different from her, she is quick to point out their error and flaws.
Does this sound like you? Are you a critical woman? Do you find fault with the way other people do things differently than you? Luke 6:45 says “ The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Having a critical spirit comes from a heart that is overflowing with anger, bitterness, jealousy, unforgiveness, and a judgmental attitude. When our heart is full of sin, our mouth will spit out the ugliness that lies within us.
I learned the hard way that having a critical spirit has terrible consequences. When Matt and I brought home our first child, I was quite critical towards the way he cared for our son. He wasn't doing anything wrong, but in my eyes he was! I walked around with a microscope on the poor guy. I always had some negative comment about the way he was bathing him, feeding him, holding him, and I even nitpicked at the way Matt was cooking and cleaning for me as I recovered from a caesarian section. As time went on,I noticed my husbands demeanor changed. Eventually, I crushed his spirit and he quit trying to help me. He couldn’t keep up with my rules and how I wanted things done. Instead of using words that build up, my inner Siskel and Ebert would come out and I tore my husband down. The consequences of our constant complaining and critical spirit will leave us very lonely. Eventually, we will find our family and friends hiding in the corner of the roof or desert just to get away from us. Even worse, our sin grieves the Holy Spirit.
So, if you are critical, what do you do? How do you change and become more gracious and kind? The Greek word for grace is charis, which is defined by Biblestudytools.com, as “ grace that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech, good will, loving-kindness, favor. It is the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.”
If you have a critical spirit, there is hope for you! I would encourage you to ponder the undeserving charis with which God, in his kindness, saved you. You didn't deserve to be chosen, forgiven, and extended grace. Before Christ, you were far off, but now you have been brought near and reconciled to God. This is such good news that it should cause us to have deep affections for God and extend that charis to others. Charis shows up in the way we look out for the interest of others and counting them more significant than ourselves, bearing with the failings of the weak and loving our husbands and children.
Some other How-To's:
Pray to the Lord and ask Him to help you with your critical spirit. If you have been told you are critical and don’t see it, ask God to create in you clean heart and renew a right spirit within you.
Repent from complaining, being judgmental, angry, jealous, and unforgiving. Turn your heart attitude to forbearance, love, and mercy towards others.
Regular bible devotions are key to helping you overcome a critical spirit. When I am out of God’s Word for a length of time, I notice my attitude becomes more sour.
Remind yourself that you are not the judge! Matthew 7:1-5 says “Take the log out of your eye so that you can see clearly the speck in your brothers eye.” The critical woman wants to be in control and be the judge. They will find fault with everything.
Get a better understanding of God’s grace. A critical woman lacks an understanding of grace and needs to call to mind the grace she has been given.
Be thankful! A critical woman is not a thankful woman and needs to praise God for all He has blessed her with. Read through Psalm 103 and books like Philippians and Colossians to help you develop a joyful, thankful heart.
For further study on this topic:
The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo ( this book is for getting to the heart of anger in children, but it's great for adults too).
Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree
Bitterness: The Root That Pollutes by Lou Priolo
Uprooting Anger by Robert Jones
Words That Hurt ,Words That Heal by Carol Mayhall
War of Words by Paul Tripp
Transforming Grace by Jerry Bridges
Good News for Weary Women by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Choosing Forgiveness by Nancy Leigh DeMoss