Is someone in your life overly critical of you or unusually harsh with you? Maybe it’s someone close—a spouse, a boss, a friend, a parent. If you’ve been at the receiving end of caustic words and attitudes, or if you recognize having the heart of a critic yourself, God’s Word offers practical solutions to such critical clamor.
The phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones and words can never hurt me!” couldn’t be further from the truth. Words can be catastrophic, tearing through your heart like a tornado roaring down a residential street. While there may not be any visible destruction, the damage to your spirit can be just as devastating as a row of demolished homes.
Although the initial sting of harsh words is evident, you may be unaware of the lingering effects. Overly critical words leave you with hurt feelings and a poor self-image. Being wounded by someone with a critical spirit often changes how you see yourself. God holds us all accountable for how we use our words – especially the ones that hurt. Critical words don’t come from a wise heart, nor do they reflect God’s heart. Only He can heal your spirit and teach you how to respond to criticism. He’s waiting to enrich your heart with encouragement, both for your good and for the good of others.
“Curse God and die!”
The words spew out of the mouth of an embittered wife who isstunned and stymied by tragedy. Gone … destroyed … are all their possessions and all their children as a result of God’s allowing Satan to test her godly husband in order to prove his faith.
Job mourns their losses but doesn’t malign the goodness of God. Instead he submits himself to the sovereignty of God by declaring, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” - Job 1:21
“Curse God and die!” is her retort, especially after seeing her husband suddenly stricken—afflicted from head to toe with painful sores. She observes this once respected man—so revered in the community—now scorned and reduced to sitting in a pile of ashes scraping his sores with a jagged piece of pottery.
Job’s noble stance before the Lord is absolute nonsense to her. She doesn’t want to hear one more word of devotion from her disease-ridden husband.
A critical spirit consumes the wife of the one whom God calls “… the greatest man among all the people…” (Job 1:3). However, she’s had enough, and she wants Job … and God … to know it!
“Are you still maintaining your integrity?” she pounds, unleashing her toxic tongue: “Curse God and die!” -Job 2:9
Everything is fine … until they open their mouths.
They are aghast at the sight before them … their once highly respected friend is now horrifically humbled. Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar (Eli, Bill, and Zo for short) have set out from their homes to pour out comforting words upon their troubled friend, but now they find themselves speechless. For seven days and seven nights they sit on the ground and commiserate, and “No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:13).
Soon their sympathetic presence morphs into a barrage of stinging rebuke that further crushes the spirit of poor Job. He responds in deep emotional pain.… “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” - Job 6:14
Like Job’s friends, has someone in your life assumed the role of your personal heavenly sandpaper … a self-appointed expert at finding fault and continually focusing on your faults in an attempt to “refine” you? The abrasive words are not helpful, but hurtful, and qualify as verbal and emotional abuse. Such criticism grates against the grain of your soul … wearing you down … stripping you of your worth.
God holds all of us accountable for how we use our words, especially words that wound. Harsh, critical words don’t pour out of the hearts of godly people. Jesus said, “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” - Matthew 12:34–35
The Keys for Living will show you how to respond to harsh criticism, confront someone with a critical spirit, accept constructive criticism, and triumph over negative criticism with truth. Check out the Critical Spirit Keys for Living here: https://www.womenoffaith.com/keys-for-living-critical-spirit
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