The enemy is always out to destroy God’s essential purpose; that purpose is for believers to be in unity. Here is where the enemy is most effective in derailing God’s purposes. He is out to create division in our fellowship with other believers, our families, friends, and working relationships.
The greatest danger to unity? Criticism. And the most insidious danger to unity and fellowship is secret criticsm — criticism hidden in the recess of the heart and not spoken.
Our fellowship with one another is based on trust. Criticism, even secret criticism, destroys the trust. Because we are spiritual beings and the ways of the spirit operate in the unseen, secret criticism is every bit as destructive as openly critical words. When there is secret criticism of the heart in operation in our Christian fellowship, it hinders honesty and authenticity. We don’t know what’s wrong, but something just doesn’t feel right. Ever have those feelings?
Some Christians mistakenly assume their ability to tear apart a person, suggestion, program, or idea as discernment. But contrary to popular assumption, criticism is not one of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Lord gives us discernment to pray.
If we speak personal words of concern to another brother or sister about them, it is important those words exhort them. The word used in the New Testament for exhortation is paraklēsis, and it means to entreat or encourage. An exhortation is meant to be an intimate call that comes to encourage, inspire, and motivate the other person in their pursuit of God. If we can’t encourage another believer in this manner, then perhaps what we really need to do is simply be silent and repent.
Fasting words has taught me that the most effective way to deal with my thoughts of criticism is to be silent. Before we ever blurt out a single word of judgment or criticism about a brother or sister, we should take those words to the foot of the cross and allow Jesus to shoulder our sin. He is able. We must repeatedly ask ourselves, “Are these words really beneficial? Will they edify?” If we practice holding our critical words toward other Christians, we will come into great freedom — a freedom from criticizing and judging – and instead we will have spiritual eyes to see the other person as a unique creation made in our Lord’s image.
We would like to thank Tim Cameron & Charisma House for providing this plan.