Breaking The Cycle of a Critical Spirit

by Cynthia Jennings on September 22, 2021

Have you ever been in an environment where you hear someone blurt out a constant stream of unwanted and unsolicited critiques? I wondered if it made the person on the receiving end feel small.

I remember a time when I was in such an environment where I heard a woman with a constant unwanted and unsolicited critique flowing from her mouth. My heart ached for the person on the receiving end.

There was another time when I was in different environment with the same two women. This time the woman on the receiving end of the aforementioned unwanted and unsolicited critiques, were hurling unwanted and unsolicited critiques at someone who was simply trying to help clean up after an event.

My heart sank. This not only gave me insight but compassion for her. Isn’t it crazy how we hold on to, or even pass down, critical words that have been spoken over our own heart?

When I look up the definition for the word critical, it’s harsh! It includes words like:

Disparaging. Condemning. Disapproving. Belittling.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a critical person, it may make you feel….

Condemned, Nitpicked. Inferior.

So, how can we break this cycle?

First, it’s key to understand the difference between constant criticism and constructive criticism. Constant criticism highlights all the vulnerable parts of who you are and completely overlooks the good. It’s dished out by a critical or very broken person. The words poke. They prod, and they leave an unpleasant mark. Constructive criticism recognizes all the valuable parts of who you are or what you do. While gently revealing areas where growth is needed.

Second, and most important. We must remember who we are in Jesus Christ and that we are handiwork, a masterpiece. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).

The NIV version describes us a handiwork. Handiwork is work done by hand with specific characteristic qualities. Being described as handiwork can feel a little hard to accept, especially if you’ve been on the receiving end of constant critique. Yet, it’s vital we understand that we were created for a purpose. We were formed in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). When we embrace the words of a critical person as our identity, we are giving away a portion of a good thing.

So, how do we apply this in real life?

*While their words carry weight, God’s words matter more. Focus on who God says you are.

*Confront unwanted and unsolicited criticism by pouring out God’s word over your heart daily. God’s    words are a shield, a light and helps you distinguish between what is true and what is not true.

* Remember your identity as God’s handiwork is not theirs to take. And just as important, unwanted     unsolicited criticism is not yours to receive and hold on to.

*Refuse to allow unwanted unsolicited criticism to flow from your heart.

The good news is that you don’t have to embrace, pass down, or be identified by anything other than who God says you are – for you are the handiwork of a great God.

PEARLStoPONDER: Jesus, I may not be able to stop the hurtful words that fall from the lips of another, but I don’t have to hold on to them as if they are true. Expose all the words I’ve tucked away in my heart that don’t belong there. If I ever feel tempted to drop those critical words over another, help me see that person as you do.

Proverbs 12:18-- The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 15:4-- The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.

Proverbs 16:24-- Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones

Proverbs 18:4-- The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.

Ephesians 2:10-- For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


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