How Do You Deal with a Critical Christian?

This is another idea that is fascinating to me… that a Christian would continually give themselves over to being critical, nit-picky, or sarcastic (which means using humor to try to partially cover up the sting of their criticism).

A critical-spirit Christian, just like a “grouchy Christian,” is a walking oxymoron!

No Christian should allow themselves to be critical, sarcastic, or grouchy toward others, because by definition, those behaviors are behaviors of the flesh, and are no way representing Christ to the world.

But what about the benign Christians who are always critical and try to be humorous about it, and genuinely see nothing wrong with their hidden contempt?

What do you do with a woman who is intent on enjoying pointing out the flaws of her Christian brothers and sisters?  All the intricate ways they are “getting it wrong?”  What do you do with a Christian woman who loves to nit-pick, harp on her many pet peeves that annoy her, and allow these things to bother her so much that they get in the way of her enjoying Christian songs – things that should be enjoyed with a kind spirit?

I recently used an example to teach other women, of what a Critical Spirit looks like, where a woman was so annoyed by the lyrics of Christian worship song, she let it occupy her thoughts so much, that she felt she just had to share her annoyance publicly with others from her blog.  Not only was this woman a perfect example of tearing down another Christian’s work for the pleasure of humor, but also of letting her annoyances and “pet peeves” dictate a pretty big part of her mind and work for God (her writing).  It’s consistently become part of her blogging career bread-and-butter, this delighting (with humor!) in the ways other Christians are “getting it wrong.”  She saw nothing wrong about her actions, literally felt no prick in her conscience when confronted.

People like this perplex me, because while they’re SO critical of their Christian brothers and sisters, they often fail to see the giant plank in their own eye.  They literally have zero concept of their own sin in their behavior that makes them so critical or annoyed or “worried.”  LOL… they will forever be “worried” over all the Christians “doing it wrong,” only so that they never really focus on what God wants them to be learning or discovering about themselves!  To them, seeing other’s flaws is much more interesting!  And a very convenient distraction from growth.

No Christian should be dwelling so much on the ways other people annoy them.  Not only is it sinful thinking that will eventually find it’s ways into our words and actions, but because it will actually cause them to be that much more critical of someone or something basically good (not worth being so critical over), the next time they’re tempted to.  Giving in to constant criticism (that springs from an untamed Critical Spirit) is allowing themselves to continually sin in their hearts toward others.  It’s a pattern of behavior that if they see nothing wrong with it, they will continue to engage in without feeling guilty.  Obviously, sinning continually and never feeling guilty for it, is extremely dangerous.  No Christian should be focusing so much on their brothers and sisters failings that they make their blog or writing career based on pointing those things out, even if it is for humor’s sake.

For a woman who consistently behaves this way, always finding something new to be annoyed or “worried” about, always focusing on outward annoyances around her instead of inward where she can actually change something, is she truly living the Christian life the way she’s meant to be?  Is she really allowing her words and actions to impact the world for greater, or for worse?  I personally believe it’s for worse.  I think a Critical Spirit Christian tempts other men and women to become equally sinfully critical as well, and what’s worse, they learn to hide their sin underneath a facade of humor so that it’s more socially acceptable.  I also think it’s catching, and the fact that many of the people who have this sin tend to act more perfect or righteous (of course!  Because if they didn’t feel this way, they wouldn’t be so critical of other people!), and deny that they are sinning at all, makes it even harder for their community to be at peace with them.

How can you deal with someone so obviously living in sin against you and others, when they are adamant that they’re “right” and doing nothing wrong in harming the unity of the Body of Christ?  How do you make someone take their sin seriously, when they’ve so carefully hidden it in humor, that it almost looks socially acceptable?

Basically?  You can’t 😦 .

I believe, and am teaching other women, that for Christians like this, the best “tools” in your spiritual tool box is simply prayer and avoidance.

A hardened, yet saved heart that enjoys the sin of focusing on their annoyances about other Christians, can only find healing and help when they begin to see themselves in actual sin.

You can’t help them with this unless you’re an older, trusted adviser – an outsider will be brushed off quickly and without any prick to their conscience.

Since they already believe they are so much better, and “doing these things (that they are so annoyed or critical of others about) right,” it would be extremely hard to get through to them.  It would take a lot of humility on their part, which usually isn’t the case.

It’s just one of those situations where it’s explained perfectly in the Bible:

 

Philippians 4:8-9? “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, [for good] will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

From here: The Bible doesn’t promise peace to those who dwell on the faults of others! It says, “[The Lord] will keep them in perfect peace, whose minds are stayed on [Him]! (Isa. 26:3).

 

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10 thoughts on “How Do You Deal with a Critical Christian?

  1. I enjoyed this lesson, Stephanie. Imagine if we were critical towards our husbands like that, and then tried to say we were just joking. Husbands wouldn’t like being treated that way, and neither would children. Makes sense that our family in Christ would have a problem with it also!

    You hammered this one, girl!

  2. Good points. Other tips:
    1. Maybe help them see that they (like you) are interpreting Christianity through their personality. In other words, that deeply conscientious but disagreeable mindset might make Then a great engineer or architect, but those personality traits are not virtuous in all cases or places.
    2. (This is super hard) Take some of their criticisms to heart of they’re true and tell them “hey that got me thinking and it really helped me. This other thing seemed overly critical. Help me understand why you felt the need to say that.”
    3. Your counsel on avoiding such people is useful. They can easily become scoffers, and they’re literally the worst.

  3. Yes! I’ve done #2 a lot! You can’t grow if you don’t accept criticism, and even some destructive criticism sometimes tells you what you don’t want to hear about yourself – but is necessary for growth.

    “Help me understand why you felt the need to say that.”

    ^LOL I don’t think people like this understand why they are super critical of other Christians or why they seem to have so many pet peeves. I remember reading in C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters about how one way Satan gets to us is getting us to dwell on our little annoyances and pet peeves.

    It’s a good tell-tale sign of whether or not someone is allowing the Holy Spirit to really direct their thought life.

  4. That’s definitely true, but I suspect (maybe it’s a fool’s hope), that their desire for holiness in others is still a hint at the Spirit’s work in their lives.

  5. Why are Christians critical? I find myself to be very critical, particularly of other people who claim they are Christians because we are called to be – to an extent, of course. I mean, certainly there are people who are critical of others just for the sake of being critical, but Christians are called to be critical of other Christians where certain issues are concerned. This woman you talk about, is she “nit picking” music lyrics because she’s just having fun being a pill or is she doing so because something in the lyrics is scripturally grating? We are told to point to and call out those who are of the faith but living in sin or espousing bad doctrine. Last night I read again through 1 Corinthians 5 (not because of this subject, but because I had just finished reading Romans):

    It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife.
    2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
    3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,
    4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
    5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
    6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
    7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
    8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
    9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
    10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.
    11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
    12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
    13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

    Here Paul is very clear about calling judging those who are of the faith. Why? Because their iniquity will spread and spoil the church, which is something we see happening in these modern times. Spoiling the church not only causes others to succumb to sin but reflects poorly on who God is. We are His representatives here on earth, His children. How then can we allow bad behavior to continue amongst our ranks? What may seem like nit-picking could instead be someone nervous about sharing their observation that something isn’t right.

    (btw: I tried using some style tags in this comment, which may or may not work. I really wish WordPress would let you preview your comment before hitting send. If this comment looks all wonky then please fix it or delete it.)

  6. Hey Snapper, that example was from awhile ago, and it was about Steven Curtis Chapman’s song “I want to live out loud.”

    I DO think it’s important to hold each other accountable, which I think should also be done to Christians who sin this way through nit-picking or violating (continuously) Romans 14 issues. They’re actually damaging the unity of the Body – which is what Paul says himself.

    But you’re right that we should “judge” other Chrsitians who are doing something wrong (sinning), especially if it’s habitually and starting to be obvious that it’s a definite part of the Character.

    I saw your post about the same issue lol!!! And yes, I totally undrestand how you would feel annoyed at a Christian singer who is willfully ignorant about morality issues concerning the country’s safety and the antifa riots etc. The Christian woman in my example however has written posts telling everyone that they’re literally no better than a Child Molester (so don’t you dare judge them!), and has taken the stance officially in the past on being very very pro-Muslim refugees.

    Don’t judge Child Molesters, and yet she’s continuously very worried about Christians hanging up plaques with Jeremiah 29:11 on them.

    That kind of thing is what I’m talking about when I say “Critical Spirit Christians.” It’s not so much about real truth and morality to them, as it is about enjoying harboring their pet peeves against fellow Christians on their home decor and songs, rather than actually living out virtuous actions through protecting children from Molesters and predators.

    That kind of hypocrisy.

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