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Summary: By God's grace, invoked by the praying of God's people plus an humble attitude brought about by God's discipline, servants of God can be forgiven of their failure and healed of their critical spirit.

A FAILURE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO COPE WITH, LET ALONE OVERCOME

“To better understand Baptist behavior, come over to the college and study human behavior.” Thus spoke Dr. George Christenberry, president of Augusta State University but also chairman of the deacons at Augusta’s FBC where I served at the time. He gave me his advice in response to my saying to him: “I have always understood Baptist beliefs but have never understood Baptist behavior.” I took his advice . . .

Having studied human behavior, practiced counseling, and observed human interaction as a counselor, I can tell you that there are folks whose failure to control their critical spirit is due to impairment . . . there are folks who willfully permit a critical spirit to dominate the way they see and speak of certain people.

If a critical spirit is allowed to prevail, the person on both the giving end and receiving end suffers damage . . . More often than not, a critical spirit represents a relationship failure of such magnitude that it is almost impossible to cope with, let alone overcome altogether!

When I came home one evening after having tried my best to reason with a counselee whose critical spirit made it difficult for family members and caregivers alike, Florence asked me how it went. I told her about all the negativity I had just been subjected to. Bless her heart, she wondered if I had tried hard enough . . . So I invited her to take my place next time and see if she could be the one person on the planet in whom my patient could find no fault. She declined my invitation . . .

Is there hope for folks whose critical spirit has become a part of who they are? For the clinically distraught whose minds have been negatively impacted by disease, yes, there is medication available for treating symptoms. And yes, family and caregivers can be taught coping skills.

For those who can help it, yet deliberately manifest a critical spirit out of selfish motives - even toward their biological family and oftentimes toward their brothers and sisters within the family of God - only a spiritual remedy has a chance of working.

Case study: We go to the Word of God to see how yet another relationship failure was dealt with by, and how it worked out for, servants of God who were forced to deal with a critical spirit among the people of God.

Once again, we are looking into the lives of dysfunctional family descendants of the Fathers of our Faith (the patriarchs). Fast forward to that period of migration from Sinai toward the Promised Land. Over and over again, it is said that the people complained and even rebelled against their rescuer! Moses had delivered them!

How painful to become the target of unjustified criticism of the kind that cuts deeply. Even more so, though, when close family members get in on the act!

Of all people, one would think that the sister who watched over Moses from birth, and the brother who stood by his side through it all, would be supportive of their dear younger brother - just when he needed them most! Not so!

Pride and prejudice from their past took its toll at long last not only on their relationship with the brother but also their relationship to God: Numbers 12:1-15 . . .

Why do folks find it “necessary” (as they see it) to compare themselves with others, knowing full well that they are going to conclude that they are better than or superior to whoever they compare themselves to?

We mature older folks I should think are committed to the New Testament principle enunciated by Paul (Galatians 3:28-29) In Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, (and, I might add, just as dysfunctional), and heirs according to the promise.”

Why I was called a “white” person puzzled me for a long time until I read an article in which it was reported that Crayola Crayon Company had put out a new color chart in which Caucasians are said to be “beige” – some more beige than others.

Well, Cushite and Midianite were terms used interchangeably to mean that these were nomadic tribes that had migrated from Ethiopia and whose skin color differed from that of the Hebrews. Be that as it may, most likely this sibling rivalry was due to Moses’ position of power as their “lord” or today we might say “POA”.

Here was a case of jealousy due to the sway that a “foreigner” had over the younger brother who owed his older sister and brother much appreciation for the watch care and nurture they had provided for him all these years!

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