Handling a Critical Spirit


Critical condition.

The phrase indicates a critical state where things aren’t as they should be.  Conditions are unfavorable, or perhaps even grave, meaning life could be knocking on death’s door. 



Point of crisis.

Interventions are implemented for the body in critical condition.

So what about the spirit?

Death looms just as much when the body is in a critical state as it does when the heart is in one.  Relationships are endangered as joy, unity and optimism are killed and buried by those who carry a critical heart. 

My thoughts led me to Google critical condition, because that is exactly the state a critical spirit creates. 

Here’s what I found:

-vital signs are unstable

-vital signs are not within normal limits

-the patient may be unconscious

-having the potential to become disastrous

Look at those bold words with me and think about the times you have received from or you have brought a critical spirit.  Never does it give life.  Never does it provide stability or security or focus.  Instead, we most certainly see how it can become disastrous. 

I jotted down the following descriptions when considering synonyms for the word critical:

Sharp.  Withering.  Cutting.  Demanding.  Penetrating.  Reproachable.  Nit-picking.  Fault-finding.

Negativity is the focus of a critical spirit. 

A critical spirit will most certainly always find a flaw.

And gossip is commonly the vehicle of transportation.

Identifying the presence of a critical spirit is the first breath in resuscitating life to both the one harboring such a heart, and to those touched by it’s toxic reach.

One of my cousins recently shared with me the humbling process she was experiencing dealing with the effects of a critical heart.  Now let me tell you, this cousin of mine is one of the sweetest, most gentle, loving and kind people walking the earth.  Truly.  Her nature is to give and her spirit is warm and welcoming.  However, through all the goodness found within her, she identified a seed she didn’t want to grow. 

It seemed harmless expressing her thoughts about how something could be done differently.  She didn’t intend to be critical, she just wanted to help; thinking maybe her way was a better way.  But she began to realize her way was a critical way, causing her family to feel a tinge of resentment toward her suggestions. 

Why do I share her story with you?

Because it’s eye opening!  If this precious person could so humbly evaluate her life and so genuinely desire for it to be the sweetest offering to her heavenly Father by identifying, confessing and purging the smallest piece potentially preventing her from being who He called her to be, then we can too! 

We don’t need to wait for our relationships, for unity, for joy, positivity and happiness to be in a critical condition before dealing with our critical spirit.  Let’s humbly ask the Lord to evaluate our hearts and reveal what may keep us from walking in the abundance He called us to walk.

Investigate my life, O God,
    find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
    get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for Yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
    then guide me on the road to eternal life.  
Psalm 139:23-24 The Message

Living in the land of criticism doesn’t just hurt the one being criticized; it hurts the criticizer as well.  It’s poison to the soul.

If you remember from Snow White, poison can look awfully enticing.  Like a shiny red apple!  I remember biting into that shiny red apple of poison after receiving an unintended pocket-dial call. 

A lady I had just met through conducting some normal day-to-day business accidentally called me shortly after our meeting.  I know her call was accidental because when I answered I heard screaming.  I continued to say “hello” until I realized the commotion was her interaction with her children.

My children were all still small; therefore, I could not fathom someone flying off the handle in that manner.  In such time, the current of my home has transitioned into many rivers of emotion, thus allowing me great insight into the desperation that mom was feeling on the day she pocket-dialed me.  Thankfully, she never knew I overheard her empty moment, and thankfully the Lord corrected my critical spirit nudging me to pray for her.  As well as for those kiddos who had pushed her to the verge of downright losing it.  Oh Lord, bless the parents! 

Those are the instances the poison can seep in. 

A critical spirit can be rooted in our hearts from multiple places:

*Superiority (as I was in my receipt of the accidental call)






*Malice (or to be more direct- just downright meanness)

So what about the instances when we are on the receiving end of criticism?

How do we handle the negativity, cutting words, sharp tongue, slander or superiority?

Again, identifying the presence of a critical spirit is the first breath in resuscitating life to both the one harboring such a heart, and to those touched by it’s toxic reach.

You may be touched by the toxic effects and have no control over changing the will of the one who spreads such poison.

Here are a few ways to handle the critical spirit.

Establish Boundaries.

Constant exposure to negativity weighs on the spirit and corrodes the heart.  And remember, fault finding is a synonym for critical

For the one who is a consistent criticizer there will always be something to criticize.  Sometimes we have to set a boundary for how closely we connect to those with critical hearts.  Typically you either join them in becoming critical too, or you’re the material for them to criticize. 

Setting a boundary means you sincerely and genuinely pray for them, without becoming critical of their critical spirit.  Be mindful of falling into that trap.  Prayer should be rooted in love and resolve to take authority over that spirit.   

But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. Galatians 5:15 NLT

Snub Evil.  Cultivate Good.

Is it possible to set boundaries but still cultivate good?  Certainly.  Setting those boundaries can be the very thing that provides for good to be cultivated. 

It’s a natural tendency of our humanity to give what we receive, even if what we receive isn’t good.  How often do we say something negative about someone when we learn they have spoken negatively of us?  Moreover, how often do we regret the nice things we’ve done when we find out even those offerings came under fire?  Seems natural to withhold goodness from those who haven’t been good to us, and to speak ill of those who have spoke ill to us.  And it is most certainly natural.  But we desire to walk, not by our nature, but by the Spirit. 

God’s Word tells us to pay back with a blessing.  A blessing. 

If we have genuinely aimed to bless, even if the one we desired to bless didn’t receive it as such, God will bless us for being a blessing. He receives it for the good we intended.  So never regret your investment to bless. 

Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and He will grant you His blessing. I Peter 3:9 NLT

Pray for the heart. 

Only God knows the heart.  Only the Lord knows the root of the criticism.  A critical spirit is a symptom of what’s hidden in the heart. Pray the Lord will speak to the heart and reveal that root.

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45 NLT

In closing, I want to remind you of some truth to keep close to your heart. 

1.     God will never leave you.  He will never abandon you or forsake you.

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

2.     No matter how rotten you’ve been to others or how rotten someone has been to you, God is faithful and an ever-present help.

God is our refuge and strength,
    always ready to help in times of trouble.  Psalm 46:1 NLT

3.     And on top of that, while people change, He never does.  Never.  He loves you.  Whether you’re tip-top shape or hardly loveable, He loves you, and is for you.  Always has.  Always will.

What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31 NLT

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 NLT

Is it coincidental that my friend Jayne Patton shared on this same subject Tuesday on her Facebook page

Is it ironic? 

I don’t think so. 

I think it is confirmation of a message the Lord wants to share with us because He sees our struggles and our hurts.  With that in mind, here is what Jayne wrote:

“..Saul loved David very much..” 1 Sam. 16:21

“..Saul had a spear in his hand, and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall.” 1 Sam. 18:10-11

People can turn on you. It happened then and it happens today. When they do, you just keep turning to God. David could have run for his life when Saul’s love turned to jealousy and fear, but he remained and continued to serve Saul faithfully. (Truthfully that’s hard for me to wrap my brain around.) So I will remind you of what I remind myself, man’s rejection does not always equal God’s. God won’t turn on you. He won’t try and stab you in the back. He isn’t jealous or fearful of you. No, God is faithful. He will strengthen you. You just keep turning to Him.

Whether a critical spirit is growing in you, or reaching in from another, identify the seeds, confront the root, make a U-turn and refuse it to flourish in your life.  May we have the courage, strength, and humility in facing the difficult, in order that our every step be toward peace, stability, love, joy, unity and positivity.



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