You have to be careful what you tell your kids: they just might repeat it. As a woman prepared the table for her dinner guests, she allowed her young daughter, Mary, to help by setting the silverware on the table.

When the guests had all been seated, the hostess noticed one of the table settings was missing some silverware. “Why, Mary, you didn’t give Mr. Brown a knife and fork!”

Mary honestly admitted, “I didn’t think he would need any. Daddy says he eats like a horse.”

The worst attribute of a critical spirit is its ability to infect others, especially our children. The only way this spirit can be overcome is by putting on the mind of Christ. If you study Jesus’ life in the Gospels, you will see that He had a caring, rather than a critical spirit. This doesn’t mean He was never critical. In fact, Jesus had a keen disregard for the Jewish religious leaders and their hypocritical conduct.

If Jesus saw fit to be critical at times, then this is justifiable under some circumstances, but God wants us to employ a caring spirit as we express our displeasure. Here are a few traits typical of a critical spirit as contrasted with a caring spirit:

  • A critical spirit condemns the person as well as the action; a caring spirit condemns the action, not the person (Proverbs 12:18).
  • A critical spirit makes judgments based on appearances; a caring spirit makes judgments based on the facts (John 7:24).
  • A critical spirit talks to others about another’s faults; a caring spirit confronts others privately (Matthew 18:15).

We get to choose how we will respond to actions we deem disagreeable, but we cannot reverse the consequences of making a careless choice. Distrust, hurt feelings, and broken relationships are often the result of a critical spirit — and we have all been guilty of this. The only way we can overcome this problem is to confess it to God and pray for renewed minds. Jesus alone can transform us from critical to caring. Let us seek Him about our shortcomings today.

The longer I live, the larger allowances I make for human infirmities. I exact more from myself and less from others. — John Wesley

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.