“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29, NLT)
Are you a critical person? I’m not talking about critical in the sense of vital importance, as in you play a critical role in an organization. Neither do I intend it in the sense of someone who appraises art or writes food or movie reviews. I’m talking about the kind of critic that negatively criticizes someone else or someone else’s work, usually excusing it with the postscript “I’m my own worst critic,” which may or may not be true. Some Bible translations treat the words “critical” and “judgmental” interchangeably. Being judgmental is the every day person’s description of being critical.
Being critical (or judgmental if you prefer) produces several negative implications in one’s life, even if much of it is unspoken. Let me give you six and please feel free to add to it if you wish.
- Being critical keeps us focused on ourselves and our own elevated opinions, resulting in unhappiness. It causes us to lose objectivity, perspective, and even our sense of humor.
- Being critical blocks us from positivity and creativity, rendering us ineffective in solving even the simplest of life’s problems.
- Being critical prevents us from having and maintaining authentic, meaningful relationships, and will often result in retaliation and resentment.
- Being critical makes it impossible to live in the flow of the Holy Spirit’s love, grace and mercy. (see Ephesians 4:30-32)
- Being critical usurps the work of God’s Spirit in the life of another being. If we honestly do see a character flaw in someone else we need to remember that God has not delegated that particular work to us. God has no deputy judges.
- Left unchecked, being critical will sow a field of pride that will produce a harvest of hubris, self-righteousness, and fear. Yes, fear.
The number one sin Jesus spoke against was against the sin of being judgmental. In the Sermon on the Mount he even went so far as to say that the standard that we use to judge others will be the same standard God will use to judge us. (Matthew 7:1-2) I can only speak for myself, but I would rather be judged according to God’s grace and mercy, and not my own standard of excellence.