Last night this thought flicked through my head:
"Where there is criticism and judgement then there is pride".
It is so easy to step into criticism and judgement. We look at people and instantly we judge them in some capacity. We were at a wedding in the weekend and at weddings you sit and you watch people, perhaps on the dance floor, perhaps in how many times someone goes to the bar, perhaps in the way people are dressed or the tattoos on the arms. In whatever way, we watch and in watching we form some sort of opinion which in reality is some form of judgement about that person.
In the same way in church we do the same thing. Sometimes it can seem like it is all performance, people gathering on a stage and performing rather than worshipping the Lord but we can easily step into judgement and criticise that. Sometimes we may find the service is not what we expect or how we like it and we step into criticism. Sometimes there is a call for something that you know might have spoken to someone but people remain seated and don't go forward. Or perhaps "the same people always go up", or whatever reason we can easily judge or criticise something.
The moment we step into a place of criticism in our judgement over another person or a situation, we may have found we have stepped ourselves into a place and position of pride. Of being better than someone else. Of thinking that we have something they don't have. Of thinking their lives need to change. Of whatever it may be.
This is the time as soon as we start to get critical or telling our opinions of others to others, that we may need to stop and ask ourselves some questions - am I building those people up? Am I thinking I am more than they are? This is the time we need to stop and pray and ask the Lord for forgiveness for judging and in essence condemning one of His beloved children. This is the time we need to take our eyes off others and turn them back to the Lord and look at Him and Him alone. It is so easy to do but I would like to encourage you to take a moment and stop before you go any further and say to yourself, is this criticism? "Have I stepped into a place of pride Lord where I think I am better than somebody else?"
'"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.'
Philippians 2:3 "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves."
v5 "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant..."
When we take our eyes off others and look to the Lord everything changes, our perspective changes, our love for others changes, what we receive from the Lord increases, but when we stay in that place of a critical spirit, things in our lives decrease as we hinder what the Lord can give us. So I encourage you today to learn to retrain your eyes and where they look and encourage them to look at Jesus rather than at others.
I realise in writing this, this is a topic that I have spoken a lot about in past blogs but I know for me it is something that I continually find myself being challenged with and growing in and continually needing to be reminded of to put my focus in the right place.