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Summary: You can be someone who steps forward. You can look at the positive and the good and how something could be. This is the right way to handle a critical spirit in your own life.

How to Overcome a Critical Spirit

Numbers 13:16-33

Near the end of C. S. Lewis’s "Chronicles of Narnia" Aslan the Lion takes Lucy, Edmund, Peter and everyone to the New Narnia--to what we would call "heaven" or the New Creation. It is a place of astonishing light and beauty; a place where every blade of grass seems to mean more and where every creature sings for the sheer joy of the Creator. It is a place where everything is just so real in depth and color that the mere sight of a daisy takes your breath away and makes you weep for the sheer beauty of the thing.

But then, in the midst of all this splendor, the children see a group of dwarves huddled together convinced that they are sitting in the rank stench of a barn--a place so dark that they cannot see their hands in front of their faces. Lucy is so upset that the dwarves are not enjoying the New Narnia that she begs Aslan to help them to see. Aslan replies, "Dearest Lucy, I will show you what I can do and what I cannot do." Aslan then shakes his golden mane and a sumptuous banquet instantly appears in front of the dwarves. Each dwarf is given a plate heaped with juicy meats, glistening vegetables, plump grains of rice. Each also receives a goblet brimming with the finest wine anyone could ever imagine.

But when the dwarves dive in and begin eating, they start gagging and complaining.

"Doesn’t this beat all," they lament. "Not only are we in this stinking stable but now we’ve got to eat hay and dried cow dung as well!" When they sip the wine, they sputter, "And look at this now! Dirty water out of a donkey’s trough!" The dwarves, Aslan goes on to say, had chosen suspicion instead of trust and love. They were prisoners of their own minds. They could not see Aslan’s gift of the New Narnia for they would not see it. Aslan can but leave them alone to the hell of their own devising.

First of all, we should remember that the anticipation of this moment is high. Ever since God promised to give Abraham the land of Canaan way back in Genesis, the whole Bible has been building to this point in Numbers 13. The entire story of the exodus from Egypt had as its goal the conquest of Canaan. This is the promised land of milk and honey toward which Moses has been leading the people all along.

We enter this story on the end of a personal story of criticism for Moses. Moses has been criticised personally by a family member and this personal criticism spreads to the nation.

It is hard to deal with criticism. Most people don’t like it, but some people like to use it. There are two avenues of criticism:

1. The first avenue of criticism is the outlook of other people and how they direct it at you. This is seen when we ask the question: “Am I being criticized?”

Moses saw this avenue of criticism in Numbers 12. Miriam, his sister was starting to have problems with Moses and his family. Miriam and Aaron complain about Moses’ wife. Interesting, because the criticism is a form of prejudice. Miriam and Aaron criticized about Moses and the fact that he married a dark-skinned woman.

Then Miriam criticizes the leadership of Moses. Miriam begins to complain and say that God is leading through other people.

Of course God is not going to put up with this time of criticism. And Moses shows us clearly a good way to deal with this type: pray and ignore it. Moses acknowledged that it was a sin, and therefore he prayed for his sister. But then he ignores it.

What do I mean? Moses continues to listen to God and not to the people who are criticizing him.

Now before I go on, we need to distinguish TWO FORMS OF criticism.


A good example of destructive criticism would be if your boss told you something like, "How could you make such a stupid mistake, what were you thinking? I don’t know why I hired you in the first place."

Or a critical husband would say the same to his spouse. “I can’t believe you did this. What were you thinking? I don’t know why I married you in the first place.”

This is not helpful because the criticism was general, negative. It merely condemned him.

Destructive criticism is not very useful. It may inform you that you made a mistake, but if no remedy is suggested and no show of confidence that the mistake can be rectified is made, then the net effect on performance will be negative.

How to handle it:

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