Christian Devotionals

The Cost Of A Critical Attitude (1)
"Miriam...began to talk against Moses...and the LORD heard this."Numbers 12:1-2 NIV

In Numbers, chapter 12, God smote Miriam with leprosy. Why? She criticized her brother Moses. Do you still think your critical attitude is of no consequence? Maybe you grew up in a family that constantly picked at the imperfections of others, and now you hear that same attitude in the way you talk to your children. You can't enjoy good things in life because all you've learned to do is inspect, examine and form opinions (usually negative ones).

Consider this definition of destructive criticism: "Dwelling upon the perceived faults of another with no view to their good." Notice the word 'perceived'. Your perceptions aren't necessarily correct. There may be circumstances you don't understand.

Next, consider the words 'dwelling upon'. We walk through life saying: "that's not right!" Or: "I wouldn't do it that way!" "But I'm an analytical person," you say. "It's how God made me." The problem comes when you choose to dwell upon your observations, and you can't set them aside. "But how can I help somebody if I don't dwell on what they're doing?" That's why the last part of the definition is: 'with no view to their good.' It's not wrong to dwell upon a fault provided you're going to pray about it and pursue a solution. "Does that mean it's okay to discuss it with a third party?" Only if you can end your conversation by saying: "Now let's pray about this and see what we can do to help."

The Cost Of A Critical Attitude (2)
"Miriam...began to talk against Moses...and the LORD heard this."Numbers 12:1-2 NIV

When Miriam criticized Moses, God smote her with leprosy. Notice three things:

(1) Not one of us is immune! Miriam was very godly; not only had she saved Moses' life as a child, she also wrote the song of worship to celebrate Israel's crossing of the Red Sea. So we never become so spiritually advanced as to be incapable of a critical attitude.

(2) Sometimes what we focus on isn't the real issue! Listen: "Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married." But was that the real issue? No, listen: "And they said, 'Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?'" Moses' wife was the surface issue; the real issue was Moses' prominence. Their complaint was: "How come he gets all the attention?" Look out! When there's competitiveness in your attitude or resentment in your heart, there'll be criticism on your lips.

(3) Doing God's will doesn't guarantee immunity! Listen: "Moses was very humble, more than any man...on the face of the earth" (Nu 12:3 NASB). Yet even he couldn't escape the pain of self-appointed critics attacking the work he was doing for God.

It was only when Aaron acknowledged: "We have acted foolishly...we have sinned" (Nu 12:11 NASB), did God show mercy and heal Miriam of her leprosy. Now we'd rather reclassify criticism as a weakness, but from God's perspective it's a sin - a genuine, bona fide registered sin! And there's only one way to deal with sin: Repent and stop practicing it.

The Cost Of A Critical Attitude (3)
"Miriam...began to talk against Moses...and the LORD heard this."Numbers 12:1-2 NIV

While a critical attitude doesn't destroy your relationship with God, it certainly hurts your capacity to enjoy His love and presence. Miriam and Aaron started out criticizing their brother Moses, and ended up feeling the consequences most in their relationship with God. Why? Because God pays attention to the way we treat each other!

"But why does God make such a big deal of this?" you ask. Because when you choose to sin you choose to suffer! Everything God classifies as sin is injurious to you - everything. When God says: "Don't" what He really means is: "Don't hurt yourself." When He says: "Don't criticize," He's not trying to deprive you of satisfaction. No, He's saying: "Having a critical attitude goes against the nature of who I've made you to be. Fish were made to swim, birds were made to fly, and you were made to live in fellowship with Me. A critical spirit hinders that fellowship."

Even people who don't claim to be particularly religious are observing the negative effects of criticism upon each of us. Dr David Fink, author of Release From Nervous Tension, studied thousands of mentally and emotionally disturbed people. He observed two groups: the stressed-out group and the stress-free group. Gradually one fact began to emerge. The stressed-out group members were habitual faultfinders and constant critics of people and things around them. The stress-free group members were loving and accepting of others. No doubt about it, the habit of criticizing is a self-destructive way to live.

The Cost Of A Critical Attitude (4)
"Miriam...began to talk against Moses...and the LORD heard this."Numbers 12:1-2 NIV

Criticism is self-exalting. Oswald Chambers wrote: "Beware of anything that puts you in the place of the superior person." That's what criticism does. It takes the focus off me and highlights me as the one who "knows". It reduces the pain of being in the spotlight and gives me the fleshly satisfaction of running the spotlight. In a sick sort of way it can feel good to put that pressure on others. People find it much harder to see my life when I'm shining the glaring light of criticism on theirs. Be careful you don't find yourself thinking: "If I can't make it in this world by what I do, I'll make it for knowing what others should do better."

Criticism is painful. Poor Moses: his brother and sister suddenly turn on him. Because, we're known best by those closest to us we're constantly vulnerable. As parents we leave our kids' lives in shambles by creating a household filled with criticism. Maybe you're reading these words thinking about a parent - hardly able to focus because you constantly see the face of your harshest critic. Their words ring in your memory: "You never were any good!" How should you respond to criticism? Paul answers: "If I were...trying to please men, I would not be a...servant of Christ" (Gal 1:10 NAS). Turn down the volume on your critics! Centre your attention on what God thinks of you and your life will take an upward swing. Why? Because God's opinion of you is the only one that really matters!

The Cost Of A Critical Attitude (5)
"Miriam...began to talk against Moses...and the LORD heard this."Numbers 12:1-2 NIV

Who will want to spend time with you if you monopolize conversation with your latest Top-Ten-People-to Hate-List? Are you constantly pointing out others' weaknesses and faults? Look out! The very people you need most are the ones who'll distance you when you become known as a faultfinder.

Sometimes criticism is inadvertent. On a better day, filled with the Spirit and focused on what's right we'd never say those things. Notice how Aaron said: "We have acted foolishly" (Nu 12:11 NASB). He didn't try to defend his position by saying: "Yes, Moses did marry the wrong person" or: "We should have more prominence." No, he realized his position then repented and retreated from it. And you must do that too! Why? Because criticism blocks the flow of God's blessing!

Oswald Chambers wrote: "Whenever you're in a critical temper, it is impossible to enter into communion with God." That's a sobering thought. The momentary relief you get from criticizing others isn't worth the loss of God's presence, is it? To restore the flow of God's blessing you need to confess and forsake your critical attitude, then replace it with a loving one. Why don't you pray: "Lord, forgive me for thinking that my perspective is always right. I acknowledge my arrogance. Give me grace in dealing with others. Help me to celebrate differences and not demand that everyone sees things exactly as I do. Give me victory over my critical attitude today. In Jesus name - Amen."

Return To Christian Devotionals

Return to Praise and Worship Home Page