Checking Your Critical Spirit
By: Betsy St. Amant Haddox
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. - James 4:6 (ESV)
Do you ever find yourself criticizing your spouse? If you said no, you’re probably lying. It’s definitely not something to brag about, but it is certainly something we’re all guilty of at one point or another in marriage. Even if you find yourself holding back the words verbally, they are still circling your mind like little marriage-pecking vultures, swooping in with one critical comment after another.
Why does he always do that?
Why can’t she be more like this?
Why doesn’t he ever do that?
Why doesn’t she see this?
The Bible clearly tells us how to relate to other believers, including our spouses. Ephesians 4:32 (ESV) Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not seeing much room for criticism in this verse. You can’t gripe at your husband about how messy he is or berate your spouse for his junk food addiction or fuss at your wife for her poor driving ability and still be kind and tenderhearted at the same time. You can’t hold a grudge about your spouse’s poor choice or judge their sinful mistake, and yet be forgiving them, simultaneously. It’s one or the other.
As difficult as it seems at times, we must do what the Bible commands and check our critical spirit at the door. No one would claim to want a critical spirit—after all, it’s incredibly ugly and unappealing—and yet, we can all agree that it’s an unfortunately easy trap to fall into. Our flesh gets in the way, and our pride starts hissing that we’re better.
I’m not that messy.
I’m a better driver.
I’m a better cook.
I don’t struggle with this, why do they?
And so the damaging, critical thoughts continue to circle, churning slowly into a tornado of destruction. Criticism leads to resentment, which leads to unforgiveness, which creates great distance in our marriages. The Bible warns lovers in Song of Solomon to beware the foxes, or the little things that create dire destruction. (Song of Solomon 2:15 ESV) Entertaining a critical spirit is allowing a sneaky fox into your marriage to destroy it.
One way to avoid setting foxes loose is by remembering that while our struggles and quirks and sins might look different than our spouses, we still have them. We’re not perfect, either. We have to put away our pride and criticism—the Bible points out in James that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. When we are puffed up in pride, we’re not close to the Lord—and to be honest, no one is going to want to be close to us. God gives grace to us, and we in turn give grace to our spouse.
Remember, we can’t fight our sin and our flesh alone. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome. Ask the Lord today to help you in your battle against criticism, and be open and intentional toward encouraging your spouse instead of putting them down.
Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of over sixteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her drummer of a hubby, two story-telling young daughters, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of pickle chips. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she's not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. Visit her and see a list of books at http://www.betsystamant.com./
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