Examining Your Heart: Do You Harbor A Critical Spirit?

One morning while a couple was having breakfast, the wife looked out her window and saw her neighbor hanging clothes on the line to dry.  She noticed the wash dingy and dirty and said to her husband, “That lady doesn’t know how to wash clothes. I wonder if she uses cheap detergent?” Day after day, she would look out the window and make the same comments, saying she couldn’t believe how the neighbors wore those dirty looking clothes. Then one day, the woman looked out the window, and the clothes were clean and bright. She was surprised and said to her husband, “Look, Honey, I can’t believe it. She finally learned how to wash clothes. I wonder what happened?” Her husband smiled and said, “Honey, I got up early this morning and decided to clean our windows.”

We can learn a valuable lesson from this story.

A critical spirit taints every area of our lives. When we are critical and fault-finding in people or things around us, we need to stop and make sure it’s not our own dirty window that’s clouding what we see. A critical spirit follows you everywhere you go, and you can’t get away from it. If you can’t see anything in a positive light – if you only see the scratch on the floor and don’t see the beauty in the amazing house – if you only see what others do wrong and never what they do right – then you need to clean your window.

At some point, we need to look in the window and say, “Maybe I’m the one who needs to change.” You see If you are always critical, then maybe you’ve developed a habit of seeing the bad instead of the good. And perhaps your life filter is dirty. Perhaps you have become judgmental and condemning instead of giving people the benefit of the doubt, and maybe you have even become entitled to your critical spirit and feel justified in judging and condemning others.

The good news is that through the help of the Holy Spirit, you can change your way of thinking and begin to see people through God’s filter – through their strengths instead of their weaknesses. But it’s a choice that you will need to make. You can focus on their good qualities, or you can focus on the things you don’t like and magnify the faults of others and the characteristics that annoy you.

Some people have become so critical minded that no matter what is done for them, it’s never right or good enough. If it’s a spouse situation – our filter can get so skewed and tainted that we can never see their good and can even forget why we fell in love with them in the first place and magnify the wrong in them. If you struggle in this area, make a list of the good qualities you like about your spouse. Write down the good things your spouse does. And catch them doing something good and acknowledge it. For instance, your husband may not be the best communicator but is a hard worker. She may have some weaknesses but is an amazing mother.

Start focusing on the good things because if you have a critical spirit, your entire outlook may be poisoned and will damage your relationships and break intimacy with people, self, and God.  People respond more to praise than they respond to criticism.

What is the definition of being critical?

The dictionary describes it as one who is inclined to find fault or judge with severity often too readily and condemn without facts.  So ask yourself. The same questions.

Am I inclined to find fault with people?

Do I judge with severity?

Do I condemn without facts?

Many people who are critical of others judge themselves in the same harsh matter. Is this you? Ask yourself

Do I think negative thoughts about myself?

Do I judge myself with severity?

Why do I do this?

The answer is often buried deep in the past. God is faithful to expose those root issues that are causing us to view the world, self, others, including God through our dirty window.

“Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.”

Mathew 15:13

 

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Your Legacy

We have heard the old cliche ‘Life is but a vapor.’ Some cliches are rooted in some very real truths. James 4:14 says that our life is like the morning fog–it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. The truth of the matter is that someday we will all breathe our last and we will have a funeral. Have you ever asked yourself what people will say about you at your funeral?

Will they focus on your worldly accomplishments, your reputation, the material things you owned, the degrees you held, your profession, or will they say that you were a man or woman who loved God above all else, and your faith was the driving force in your life? The answer to these questions will determine the kind of legacy you will leave behind. A heritage is what is passed down to you such as a family name, culture, birthright, etc. A legacy is what you build into people. It’s what future generations will say about you.  It is for certain that you will leave a legacy. The question is what kind?

Our lives have a huge impact on those around us. You are or will be the patriarchs or matriarchs of your families…the leaders and your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will take what you have done with your life and build on their own lives. Your legacy then it’s a continuation of your influence beyond your lifetime. It’s either positive or negative that reflects what you value.

Have you thought about what legacy you want to pass on to your family? If you were to die today, what kind of legacy would you leave behind? What if by the grace of God you were given more time, a day, a week, a month? How about another 50 plus years? What would your children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren say about you?

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, please hear this, even if you only have one more day, the word of God tells us that one day in His courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. We serve a God who heals, redeems, restores, and can transform your family legacy despite what was passed down to you, or you have been leaving behind up to this point. Joel 2:25 tells us that God will give us back the years that the locusts have eaten away. Genesis 50:20 declares what the enemy meant for evil God will turn around for our good.

The world is a darker place today than when we were children, and it’s only getting darker. We must stand up and be a light not only in our generation, but we must pass on the torch of light… our faith, for the next generations, but it starts with our families. It starts with you. You can be the one who applies the redemptive power of the cross of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and leave a legacy of faith that lasts. One that honors God and makes a difference for all eternity. Choose to leave a godly legacy. Your great-great-grandchildren are depending on you.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.  Choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

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Godly Sorrow Brings True Change

Repeated apologies, promises never to do it again, remorse, tears, pleading for another chance are things repeat abusers say to those they hurt. Whether they are causing harm through emotional or physical abuse, committing adultery, being deceptive, lying, cheating, or are engaged in other destructive behaviors such as addiction, they may genuinely feel bad when exposed and confronted and offer appeasement for the moment, but nothing changes.

The behavior continues causing pain and destruction at all levels in families and relationships. That’s because God’s word says there is a huge difference between feeling sorry for what we do and repentance, regretting the wrongs we have committed and committing to change behaviors that bind and hurt others.

Worldly sorrow does not lead to the brokenness and humility needed to get the human heart to a place of genuine Godly sorrow and repentance before a Holy God that produces a desire to change. Worldly sorrow causes the heart to hardened and brings forth death in all areas of our lives, while Godly sorrow softens the heart and brings forth life.

If we continue to allow others to appease us with worldly sorrow, then we must understand that things will remain the same. This is called enabling.

We can’t change another person’s heart but God can. Release them to God, guard your heart, and pray the Lord will orchestrate whatever needs to take place to produce Godly sorrow in someone who is hurting themselves and others. True change begins when you stop co-signing worldly sorrow that leads to death. Stop the cycle! Choose life!

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What Are Boundaries?

n the physical world, boundaries are easy to see….. lines, fences, signs, hedges…..these are all physical boundaries. They give the same message….THIS IS WHERE MY PROPERTY BEGINS. As the owner of the property, I am legally responsible for what happens on my property line. Nonowners are not responsible. In the spiritual realm boundaries are just as real only harder to see. Yet they serve the same purpose. They protect ownership.

The word of God says that our bodies are the temple of the living God and His Spirit lives in us. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) We have been bought at a price…by the precious blood of Jesus. (1 Corinthians 6:20) Therefore, we belong to Jesus first and foremost and our identity is in Him and Him alone. Boundaries merely help guard and protect that relationship and our relationship with self and others.

Boundaries also defend us physically, emotionally and spiritually from intrusive or unwanted dangers. They also make it possible to engage and enjoy a mutually healthy relationship because they protect those relationships by setting the course for mutual respect, consideration, and safety.

Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins….leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I own and take responsibility forgives me freedom. If I know where my yard begins and ends, I am free to take responsibility for my life and it opens us options to pursue the person that God created me to be. It also gives me the freedom to allow you to be who God created you to be and take responsibility for your own life. This takes the burden off both you and me.

When you have healthy boundaries you guard yourself against giving more than you should and protect you from others taking more than they should.

Boundaries help bring order to your personal world and the world around you and guard against enmeshment and codependency where you are controlled by others and stripped of your identity in Christ causing great conflict in all areas of your life.

Gods word tell us to……” Above all else guard your heart for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)

How about you? Do you have healthy boundaries? If not ask the Lord to show you how to put boundaries in place that will guard your heart and help you engage in mutually healthy relationships that are blessed by God.

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Emotionally Crippled

We are told in scripture to let go of the past and reach forward to what’s ahead. Sadly, many of God’s children cannot let go or forget the past because they have been wounded and crippled emotionally in one way or another, and the past is affecting their present life. So instead of running the Christian race they limp along the way often overcome with guilt and shame for not “getting it” like other Christians seemingly do.

Our Churches are filled with two types of emotional crippled Christians, The first have open wounds in their hearts that they medicate through negative behaviors such as addiction, immorality, anger etc. They live in denial not realizing their destructive and hurtful behaviors have a root cause.

The second group of wounded believers are also in denial but through sheer will power they have chosen to bury and rise above their past often pouring themselves into ministry, volunteer work, charities, and other busy activities out of a personal need to be needed and valued rather than a healthy heart to serve. By staying busy they don’t have to face themselves and the wounds inside, or learn to receive from others.

These two groups have one important thing in common – they have never accepted the Grace of God. Whatever they do, even spiritually, it never seems to be enough. It’s as if they have to earn God’s acceptance, and yet never feel they are good enough to fully receive it. The first group is overcome with sinful behaviors; while the second group is so busy “being good” they don’t even consider the possibility that they may have festering wounds inside that need healing.

It is only when unresolved areas within are dealt with that the past can truly be put behind and we are able to run the race with endurance and assurance of God’s calling and purpose for our life.

“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
Hebrews 12:1-2

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Looking for Love

Every human being has an inward need and craving for love. As children our parents were meant to model and fill our need for love often failing because many can only pour out what was poured into them, either healthy love or unhealthy love. If our need for love is not met, we will go through life trying to get our need met through people, places and things apart from God. We will go seeking after the wrong bread and start to feed off that which never satisfies our hunger for love.

Psalm 27 says, “A satisfied man craves the honeycomb, but to a hungry man even the bitter thing seems sweet.” What does this mean in modern language? Bad love is better than no love at all. It’s easy to judge those who stay in abusive or dysfunctional relationships, or the young woman who cruises bars giving her body away freely. How about women, young and old, who dress provocatively and cheapen themselves because they do not know their value and worth? The sad reality is that they are looking for love and acceptance, but like the song says, they are looking for love in all the wrong places. This cheap imitation of love is better than no love at all. Chances are they have never had their need for love met, so they try to get it anyway they know how.

So we keep running to people, places and things hoping they will fill our deepest need for love, but we are left continually unsatisfied. It is not wrong to desire to be loved, God created us for love, but it is desperately wrong for us to think that we can get our deepest need for love in anything other than the love of Christ.

Psalm 107:9 declares, “God satisfies the longing soul. He fills the hungry soul with goodness.” In other words, He will not take away our craving for love; instead He satisfies it the right way. Oswald Chambers wrote, “No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first.”

Some of us know these truths in our heads but not in our hearts. If you are having a difficult time letting this truth resonate deeply into your heart and soul, it may be that there are some wounded areas that need to be healed so that you can experience the fullness of His radical love for you.

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Healing The Roots of Rejection

Nothing wounds a heart more than rejection. The dictionary defines rejection as “an act of throwing away or discarding someone or something,” which implies a lack of value in the person or thing being thrown away.

Since every human being has three fundamental needs ….to be loved, valued and accepted, rejection results in wounding in the heart so painful that people cannot deal with it so they suppress it in their mind, stuff the pain away inside, pretend it’s not there and live in denial of their pain, but later it surfaces in various negative behaviors causing deeper pain, problems and conflict much like a layering effect.
 
Rejection can be rooted in our family of origin, peers, those in authority (teachers, pastors, etc.), resulting from verbal abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, troubles in the home, adoption, divorce, abandonment, infidelity, and peer rejection.
 
Sadly rejection can breed more rejection if the roots are not dealt with. People with rejection issues often feel victimized and place themselves in situations where they are always the victim, whether real or imagined and it sets a pattern that becomes a way of life, Others turn to exhausting ways to feel accepted – people-pleasing, perfectionism, workaholic, etc. Others refuse to deal with it altogether and check out through drugs, alcohol, anger, immorality, and other negative behaviors. Unless the root is dealt with, the truth is accepted and replaced –the by-product or rejection will always be rejection.
 
Despite past rejection, our God can heal you. He can walk into the darkness of rejection and shed His marvelous light on the path of your healing journey. The one who created you and numbers the hairs on your head will never reject you. He wants to heal those painful roots of rejection so that you can live in His acceptance.
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Do You Want To Be Made Well?

Jesus asked one question to the lame man at the pool of Bethesda in John 5:2 “Do you want to be made well?” This is the pivotal question for every person seeking healing for emotional wounds. The simple truth is that not everyone wants to be made well. They may start off eager with the best intentions, feeling emotionally that they cannot go on another day, but at the end of the day, do not want to be made well, and those who do not want to get well are not going to get well.

Why would I not want to walk in the freedom from the bondage that Christ set me free from? F-E-A-R! Fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of what may be uprooted and exposed, fear of pain, fear that we may have to give up (someone or something); Or we may not be desperate enough yet.

Perhaps we have grown comfortable in our dysfunction and are comfortable in a victim role. We may not have reached a breaking point yet where we face losing someone we love, such as a spouse, or a relationship, maybe even a job, our freedom, and in our minds – we tell ourselves as bad as our current situation is – “it’s not as bad as so and so’s”, or at least we know how to respond, or how to continue to do life and even serve in ministry. However, we are putting on the painted smile while living in a prison in our own mind. But make no mistake…It is never God’s fault. If we do not want to embark on the journey and “be made well” – we won’t get well. Healing is a choice.

If you are in a place where you are desperate enough to get help and want to be made well then I pray that nothing will hinder you from getting the healing that you need and will encounter the Healer in a deep and intimate way.

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Letting Go

Nothing is more grieving than loving someone bent on destruction. Feeling powerless can drive us to insane levels of trying to save our loved ones from the consequences of their poor choices by fixing, managing, and trying to change and control their lives.

Often we don’t even realize that we may be hindering the work of the Holy Spirit that convicts, leads them to a place of brokenness,
surrender, and repentance.

Our greatness act of love must be to pray, let go and surrender them to God. When we get out of the way, our loved ones stop looking to us to be their savior and turn to their true Savior Jesus Christ who has the power to heal, restore, redeem and set free.

Whether it’s a spouse, child, sibling or a friend, we must release them to the care of God, yet it’s difficult to do because many of us have a misconception about what it means to let go and release. The following poem was written by June Hunt. It’s a beautiful picture of releasing. –
Releasing You:

Releasing you is not to stop loving you but loving you enough to stop leaning on you.

Releasing is not to stop caring for you but to care enough
to stop controlling you.

Releasing is not to turn away from you, but it is to turn to Christ trusting His will over you.

Releasing is not to harm you but realizing my help has been
harmful to you.

Releasing is not to refuse you but to refuse to keep reality
from you.

Releasing is not to prove my power over you, but it is to admit that I am powerless to
change you.

Releasing is not to stop believing in you, but it is to believe the Lord alone will build character in you.
Releasing is not to condemn the past but to cherish the
present and commit our future to the Lord. -June Hunt

To let go means to get out of the way, release our loved ones at the foot of the cross and offer them up to the care of God.

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Trust

Trust is learned. And once one learns to withhold trust it’s hard to “unlearn.” If people aren’t trustworthy, our sense of security is shaken. It may be a parent who mistreated or didn’t protect you, a spouse that you trusted who let you down, or a close friend who betrayed you.

God wants you to learn to trust in a healthy way, with boundaries. He knows the pain you’ve experienced and the fear you have of ever trust anyone again. That’s no way to live, though. That’s like living in a prison even though you are not behind physical bars.

Trust the Lord today. He is faithful today. Your Jesus, your precious savior, the lover of your soul will heal the parts of you that have trouble trusting.

Lord God,
I say that I trust You, God, but deep down I hold on to the reins. I can’t quite surrender all the control over my life. I try to control what happens around me. I don’t trust others to come through for me. I try to do everything myself, but it’s not working for me! Help me learn to trust so that I can depend on others and upon you, Lord.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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