We all know people who have a critical spirit. They almost always seem to be criticizing, finding fault, and tearing others down. Constructive criticism, on the other hand, is always expressed face to face, from a good spirit, and with the intent to build another up. But one with a critical spirit gravitates to a pattern of dwelling on the negative, looking for flaws, complaining continually, and being often upset about something.
In Matthew 7:1, the Savior told the Jewish multitudes being promised the Millennial Kingdom, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Unfortunately, this verse has been widely misunderstood. The Lord Jesus was clearly NOT forbidding making any judgments about people or conduct. In verse 6, He gave instruction not to give “that which is holy to dogs.” In verse 15, He warns to “beware of false prophets.” In both instances making some judgments were necessary. Later in Hebrews 5:14, it is promised that saints with a kingdom hope (who will first go through the seven years of tribulation) will “have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” During this time, false teachers and evil influences will abound, and a keen sense of discernment, anchored in Scripture, will be essential. What then did our Lord mean when He told His followers to judge not? In essence, He meant they must not allow a negative judgmental spirit to dominate their daily walk. Once the persecution of the tribulation unfolds, believers who choose to be harsh in judgment and constantly find fault with others (Matthew 7:2- 4) will be dealt with in a similar fashion by the forces of the Anti-Christ. Moreover, the Lord was seeking to impress on His followers that there must be a difference between them and the hypocritical leaders of Israel. They were like the self-righteous publican thinking himself better than the humble sinner who prayed in the temple (Luke 18:9-14). The Savior was urging believers to cultivate a humble and sincere godliness all could readily see.
While this passage has primarily application to Jewish believers awaiting or going through the Tribulation, there are two principles for us to glean. We, too, must guard against having a persistent, fault-finding, critical spirit. This leads to a soured negative existence and a testimony rooted in pride. Yet we must not fail to judge bad doctrine or sinful behavior and distance ourselves from both, for “he that is spiritual judgeth all things” (I Corinthians 2:15). Are you striving for balance in both areas?
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