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BEWARE THE WHISPERED WORDS OF CRITICISM


Years ago, our church was growing rapidly, a hundred new members had been

received the year before, our income had quadrupled, and God was moving

miraculously in our midst. Lives were being changed and hardly a day passed

that someone was not delivered from drugs, alcohol, or some other form of the

devil's control. The office was crowded during the week and the Sanctuary

packed on Sunday. Then the criticism started. Almost helplessly, I watched its

work take place and in less than two years the church had been reduced to a

mere shadow of its former self. Let me hasten to explain that this article is not

to review that pain and injury or to criticize my critics. I have no need to do

either. Rather, I want to share with you some valuable truths I learned during

that costly experience. What I have to tell will benefit and protect your own

future.


First of all, all of us need to be criticized. Since we usually cannot see our own

mistakes, we need someone else to show them to us. Constructive criticism

can therefore be a wonderful friend. Whether or not it blesses or destroys our

lives depends on our reaction to it. Significantly, it does not depend on the

criticism itself. Please hear me carefully on this point: A wrong reaction to

criticism can be the most dangerous decision of our life.


Why do I say this? Beside the fact of there being "constructive" criticism there

is also a wrong "spirit" of criticism which wants to plant itself in you and

perpetuate its attack on others through your mouth. The spirit of criticism like

other unclean spirits cannot enter you except through a sinful act. It does not

enter automatically because you are criticized; it enters because you are 1)

wounded by that criticism and 2) you respond to the attack in anger, rejection,

jealousy, or some other sin. It is your sin that allows the spirit to enter. You

hold the key. When you are under such an attack, the spirit of criticism will

search for any flaw in your personality, such as pity, guilt, condemnation, or

similar weakness, through which it can gain access to you. Once on the inside

of you, it will impose itself on your will and personality to such a degree that

it seems entirely justified and right. Tragically, I have seen people who were

wrongly criticized and who appeared to take it heroically, later become severe

critics of others. Why! They did not know that the spirit of criticism had

successfully entered them. Its method of entry is so subtle, so insidious, that it

has its victims snared without their knowing it. This is the "second-stage"

effect of criticism. We might call these people the second-generation critics.

They are not the ones who initiated it --- but they are the ones who later

perpetuate it. Through nearly thirty-five years of my ministry I watched this

happen but did not know what the method of contamination was. Now I do.

In those years I saw young people who hated traits in their parents and who

vowed that they would never become like them. Guess what? They became

exactly like them. The children hated the trait to the point that it became sin in

their lives and the sin gave opportunity for the same spirit to enter them and

take control.


Have you ever wondered why some families produce generations of, jealousy,

alcoholism, criticism, hot tempers, and a mile-long list of other evils?

The tragedy of criticism is not a simple one. It is as evil as disease. People

have it rooted deeply into themselves long before they realize the intensity of

its power in their lives and frequently its process of destruction is already done

before its presence is discovered.


Here Are Some Facts You Need To Know About Criticism.

Examine Yourself By Them:


1. The spirit of criticism never attacks the real problem: it attacks people and

relationships.


2. Criticism is a master of disguise; it logically justifies its presence and

actions.


3. Criticism always blinds the memory to good times experienced in the past:

it "Burns the bridge behind it" on former relationships.


4. The final stage of criticism is physical and mental illness.


In contrast to the critical spirit, the Holy Spirit draws Christians together; He

never divides the Body of Christ. Christ prayed for our unity --- not our

disunity. John 17:11,22. Whenever such division occurs in Christian

relationships, be assured that the spirit of criticism has successfully done its

work. Nor is he working just against the individual believer. His attack is

against the Kingdom of God. Christians are frequently so uninformed that they

do not recognize his motive in this attack. Criticism is Satan’s most effective

"fifth column" which wreaks havoc among the saints.


If someone recognizes that he has a spirit of criticism, what can he do about

it? Know this first of all, no unclean spirit ever leaves voluntarily. They have

to be cast out by the authority of Jesus' name. Self-deliverance is possible

through repentance, fasting, and prayer. More difficult cases need ministry

through the laying on-of-hands by another true believer. Either way, you have

no more choice of delay than you would with cancer. Here is an important test

to put to yourself: Was there a time in your life when you went through a siege

of criticism and immediately afterward you willfully separated yourself from

friends of whom you became critical? If so, then you are a prime suspect of

being both the victim and victimizer of criticism. That spirit wants to destroy

you, your family, and everyone around you. Get rid of it! Do it now! You

cannot afford the luxury of delay. Seek restoration with those from whom you

have been wrongly separated. Only then can you step into freedom and

deliverance. The end result of failure is your own physical and emotional

illness -- and in those you love.


Criticism Kills Both Victim And Victimizer


In a recent bulletin I snared some insight which I felt the Lord had given me

regarding the spirit of criticism and how it is able to spread its contamination

from one victim to another. In this article I want to explain why one group of

people --- women --- are apparently more vulnerable to this spirit than are

men. Men are by no means exempt but there is an identifiable reason why

they are less likely to fall into the trap of gossip and slanderous talk. Their

vocal sin takes a different approach. The purpose of this article is to help all of

us, as potential victims of criticism, guard ourselves from its attack. In the

previous writing we learned that the spirit of criticism wants, 1) To wound its

victim, 2) From that wounding, it wants the victim to retaliate in a sinful

response such as hatred, jealousy, or rejection. The sin-response allows the

spirit to enter the victim and use him or her as a base of operation in its attack

on others. This brings us to the consideration as to why women are usually

more involved in criticism than are men: By nature women are more sensitive,

more delicate, and thus more easily wounded. Satan uses a women’s

tenderness as his door of entry. Unfair? Yes. But he works that way. Women

and men both need to realize that the only safeguard to prevent such a spirit

from entering them is to quickly follow Jesus' command:


"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, Do good to them that, hate

you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."

Matthew 6:44.


Forgiveness is not just a luxury we begrudgingly extend to those who hurt us;

it is an absolute essential for our own protection and well being. Jesus gave

the unsurpassed example when He looked down from the cross upon the mob

of critics and persecutors and said, "Father, forgive them for they know not

what they do!" He not only preached forgiveness of His foes but He practiced

it.


There is a paradox in Scripture which I think finds its explanation in this fact

of a woman’s special tenderness and vulnerability. There are abundant

examples in the New Testament of women prophesying and operating in the

vocal gifts in the church. Yet, the Apostle Paul in several places commands

them to be in silence. In my own mind, the answer is found in this

troublesome area of a woman's weakness to resist the hurt of sharp tongues.

Because she is wounded, and sins in the wounding, she becomes a wounder of

others. Believe me, in over 70 years of preaching (and I am not about to quit)

I have met both men and women who qualified for Paul's statement about

"many unruly and vain talkers... whose mouths must be stopped". Obviously,

there are many instances when women and men need to be told in firm words,

"Be quiet! Say no more!" I remember years ago dismissing an entire

congregation and leading them into the yard when an irate male member

refused to be silenced. We turned our backs on him and walked out. He was

left inside with his voice echoing in an empty building. More than once I have

gone to such people and put my hand across their mouths. God forgive me for

the times I have failed to do this and allowed wounding to result. Why am I

saying all this about critics and criticizing? Let me give you a hypothetical

example:


Mrs X was a gentle, loving, church member who came under an unjustified

attack of criticism. Outwardly, she appeared to take it graciously even though

it hurt deeply. Inwardly however the wound was too deep for her to cope with.

A year later she became a severe critic of people whom she had earlier loved.

She spread that criticism to others and wounded their lives with it. They in

turn became critics. She was not the one who initiated the original criticism;

she was the one who received it. And she did not recognize that she herself

had taken in the same spirit she hated so desperately in those who wounded

her. Worst of all, she did not realize that she contaminated those whom she

most loved --- her children, family, and friends -- with the deadly disease of

criticism.


In the years of my ministry I have served churches with critics in their

membership and churches without critics in their membership. Believe me,

the last one is far better. God not only likes the difference, He proves it by

pouring out His Spirit when the critics are gone. Oddly, people will criticize

the church for the absence of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you have already

noticed that God’s method of pruning the vine He loves is to remove the

critics. If need be, He will prune it all the way back to the stump and allow

only new, uncritical growth to come forth.


What Should We Do About Those Whose Criticism Is Damaging To

Ourselves And The Church?


1. Immediately, forgive them. You can forgive even if you do not agree with

them.


2. Pray for them. Pronounce blessings upon them.


3. In the name of Jesus, bind the destructive power of their words and any

possible wrong reaction in yourself.


4. Go to them; lovingly warn them. Explain to them that the spirit of criticism

is both unclean and dangerous. Tell how it seeks their own destruction.


5. If they will permit, minister deliverance to them.


6. Love them.


7. Love them.


8. Love them.


9. Love them.

"If he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother..."

And delivered yourself from a very dangerous spirit.


Criticism is not a game. It is a dangerous disease that eventually attacks the

same one in whom it resides. The end result of criticism is not just wasted

lives and destroyed opportunities. Its final effect is mental and physical

illness. You don't want it!

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