Summary: An Expository Sermon on Luke 6:37-42 about the Christian showing a compassionate attitude rather than a critacal attitude.
The Critical Spirit
Pastor Larry Sarver
New Life in Christ
1633 SW 34th St. Palm City, FL 34990
Illustration: Guilty as sin! It happened just a few years ago. The banks in New Jersey had been robbed systematically, one after the other. What made the robber stand out was his politeness. He just gave the tellers a note which said, "Please place your money in this bag. Thank you." The newspapers called him the GENTLEMAN BANDIT. The widespread publicity led to a very unlikely arrest - the suspect was a Catholic priest. His church was appalled but stood beside him, saying they knew he could not be the bandit. They signed petitions, held protest marches and came up with his bail. But the police were certain they had their man. All of the eyewitnesses positively identified him. And the news media dug into his past, to find that in a previous church he had left under a cloud because of financial irregularities in the parish. For a priest he had a pretty expensive lifestyle - his own apartment and a fast car. His church was probably standing up for him because otherwise they looked like dupes. As I watched the story unfold on the news, I was positive this priest had pulled a fast one. He probably had a sociopath personality so he could rob banks and preach the next Sunday without feeling any guilt. No one outside his congregation was standing up for this guy. But then a funny thing happened. The REAL Gentleman Bandit was caught red-handed. As it turned out, he was the spitting image of the priest. It’s just that he WASN’T the priest. The priest was released, his church threw him a big party, and the news media and I felt a little sheepish. Source: Rev. David Holwick First Baptist Church Ledgewood, New Jersey
This story reminds us of how careful and merciful we all need to be in our judgments. We may be wrong! Even when we are right we can still be wrong in our response. We as a society tend to judge, analyze, and evaluate various things. For instance we can give a movie two thumbs up or two thumbs down. We can evaluate a person’s attractiveness on a scale of one to ten . I of course am a Ten! The concern I have is when we begin to make judgments about people. Are we doing so with a critical spirit or a merciful spirit?
What Exactly is a Critical Spirit?
A "critical spirit," is an obsessive attitude of criticism and fault-finding, which seeks to tear others down — not the same thing as what is sometimes called "constructive criticism." The only criticism that is ever constructive is that which is expressed in love to "build up," not to tear down — it is always expressed face-to-face, never behind their back. The person with a critical spirit usually dwells on the negative, seeks for flaws rather than good.
Source for this paragraph: © by Dale A. Robbins, 1990, and is a publication of Victorious Publications, Grass Valley, CA 95949.
This is an attitude we all need to be alert too. Several years ago, as I was reading the Bible one night, the phrase or warning of Jesus to "watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees" really stood out to me. I sensed that the Holy Spirit was trying to show me something about my own life. After several days of prayer and thinking, I began to understand that I had become in many ways like a Pharisee. As I took an honest look and evaluation of my own life I began to see how critical my heart and sometimes my words had become of other people. It seemed that I could find something wrong with every other church and every other pastor or ministry. I would often be critical or harsh toward believers and unbelievers. Subtly and slowly a critical spirit had entered into my heart and my life and God was greatly displeased.
Many times the criticism I felt or spoke was based on facts and was accurate. I was right and yet I had never been so wrong in all my life. You can be right and the wrong at the same time if your attitude is not one of mercy, understanding, and love but is rather one of fault finding and finger-pointing. Truth is not the highest virtue, Love is!
It is critical that we deal with the critical spirit because it is destructive and harmful to our walk, witness, and our world. It is harmful to our spiritual walk because there is nothing that causes as many problems in our relationship with God as an unforgiving, unloving , and critical attitude toward another person. A critical spirit is harmful to our witness because the world is watching us and listening to us and they will not believe that we serve of God of mercy and kindness unless we exhibit those traits ourselves. It is harmful to our world and by that I mean our own personal world-that is our families, are churches, and our workplaces. Certainly very few things do as much damage and cause as much dissension within marriages, churches and workplaces as a critical tongue and attitude.