The Danger of a Critical Spirit
During this month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we can reflect on the gentleness and kindness of Jesus. It is easy to see in the images of His Sacred Heart- the fire of His love, burning for each of us.
And yet...have you ever met a critical Christian?
In the Gospels, both Jesus and John the Baptist were only strong with King Herod (corrupt politico-religious leader) and the scribes and Pharisees. They were legalistic, theological "know-it-alls," whom Jesus lumped in with lawyers, who "bind heavy and insupportable burdens, and lay them on men's shoulders; but with a finger of their own they will not move them." (Matt. 23:24)
Ironically, Jesus was gentle and kind with just about everyone else. Have you ever noticed that the Pharisees in life are quick to "dish it out" but can't take a strong word themselves? According to Jesus, these people make disciples "the child of hell twofold more than yourselves." (Matt. 23:15) In this New Evangelization, do we think that pointing a finger, yelling and screaming (quietly or loudly) at someone else will attract them to the faith? No, rather it is the kindness of God that leads man to repentance. (Rom. 2:4)
Jesus preached against the Pharisees, saying do as they say, but not as they do. (Matt. 23:3) People today are quick to criticize the Pope, bishops, even their parish priests, etc., leaders that have been anointed by God, if they do not agree theologically with what they say...yet Jesus focused on the heart of a person, and their behavior manifesting from it. Jesus actually honoured the Pharisees as those that were appointed by God as leaders of the Jewish people, but preached against their immoral and unjust actions, so that they might repent. (and a few did- Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea)
The Biblical Counseling Coalition asks,
"Do you criticize and pass judgment on others? Do you find yourself with a negative disposition, always finding fault with something or someone? Is it difficult for you to see the positive in a person or a situation because the negative is so glaring in your eye? Are you compelled to give your critical point of view for the good of all mankind?
If you answered yes to one of these questions, then you have a critical spirit and you are in danger. Not getting hit-by-a-truck-kind-of-danger, but an even more serious kind—and that is spiritual danger. A critical spirit is from the dark side. It is meant to hurt and destroy its object." ("Overcoming a Critical Spirit," link)
They give four categories of someone with a critical spirit, with corresponding Scriptures: 1 the Gossiper, (1 Tim. 5:13, Prov. 11:13, Prov. 20:19) 2 the Slanderer, (Prov. 10:18, Prov. 16:28, 1 Pet. 2:1) 3 Judgmentalism, (Matt. 7:1-2, James 2:13) and 4 the Complainer. (James 5:9, Philippians 2:14)
Did you know that Scripture says not to associate with a gossiper (Prov. 20:19), and that Jesus Himself said, with regards to someone who spreads scandal about another, "it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea" (Matt. 18:6) ?
There was a man who died and was taken into Heaven. He was waiting in line to talk to Jesus, Who was letting some people in, others He wasn't. He was asking each person, "did you learn to love?" One woman He let in, because she was full of love for Him and for many others that she helped to come into His Kingdom. But, another woman in the line said something like, "Lord, I truly loved you and spent time with you in life, but I was hurt so much by other people..." that she didn't learn to love others. Jesus allowed her in...but was disappointed.
He only gave us two commandments: LOVE GOD, and LOVE OTHERS. Some are good at one, and not the other. But the saints, for example St. Francis of Assisi, show us the necessity and beauty of loving one another and Jesus. In order to be like Jesus, we have to do both. St. Joseph, Pope Francis said, was a gentle, loving soul as well, who can also help us to learn to love: "Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble."
In this month of the Sacred Heart, Jesus is calling, waiting for us to come back to Him. Like the old song says, "Come back to Me/ with all your heart. /Don't let fear/ keep us apart..." and another, "and they'll know we are Christians by our love/ by our love/ yes, they'll know we are Christians by our love."
Jesus said from the Cross, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
In the Father's Love
Lee Anne and Dan Devine, M. Div
Heart Two Heart Ministries, Inc.
(check out the new EP, "Spontaneous Songs: from Mary's House")
Follow us on YouTube