The Critical Mind
by Joyce Meyer
[Jesus said] A good (healthy) tree cannot bear bad (worthless) fruit, nor can a bad (diseased) tree bear excellent fruit [worthy of admiration]. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. Therefore, you will fully know them by their fruits.—Matthew 7:18–20
Have you ever met someone who had “the gift of suspicion”? They are everywhere—even in church. Recently I heard a man commenting about such a woman in his church. He said she always seemed to think the worst of everyone. If someone did something generous, she would say, “What does he expect to get out of that? I suppose he wants us all to bow and thank him.”
On one occasion, someone commented about what a friendly, happy person an usher was. “That’s his public face,” the woman said. “He’s always smiling, but I’ll bet when he gets home and away from everyone else, he doesn’t smile like that.”
He went on to say if someone chided her for her critical attitude, the woman only responded by saying, “I just call things as I see them. You’re always trying to make things look better than they are.”
The man finally realized that it wasn’t good for him to be around her, and he began to distance himself from her as much as possible.
I believe this man made a good decision. I have discovered during my years in ministry that when someone with a critical spirit comes into a group or a meeting, it doesn’t take much for others to become infected with it. It reminds me of the saying about one bad apple spoiling the whole bushel.
Over the years, I’ve met people who were very much like this lady. They’re often tormented by their judgmental attitudes, critical spirits, and suspicious minds. They also destroy many relationships by their words.
Matthew 7:18 says these “bad fruits” tell us a lot about the “tree,” but that doesn’t give us the right to judge. We must remember that no one is perfect—each of us is a work in progress. While it may be wise not to be too closely associated with such people, we must be careful that we don’t judge them according to our standards and beliefs. We must pray for them and keep a godly attitude. Part of being a loving, caring Christian is to realize that people may not see things in this life exactly as we do. We are not all at the same level of Christian maturity, but we can be sure that God knows everything about each one of us. We must leave any judging to the only righteous judge—Jesus Christ.
James writes: “[My] brethren, do not speak evil about or accuse one another. He that maligns a brother or judges his brother is maligning and criticizing the Law and judging the Law. But if you judge the Law, you are not a practicer of the Law but a censor and judge [of it]. One only is the Lawgiver and Judge Who is able to save and to destroy [the one Who has the absolute power of life and death]. [But you] who are you that [you presume to] pass judgment on your neighbor?” (James 4:11–12).
Paul asks, “Who are you to pass judgment on and censure another’s household servant? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he shall stand and be upheld, for the Master (the Lord) is mighty to support him and make him stand” (Romans 14:4).
Dear heavenly Father, forgive me for criticizing others. I know that You are the only one who is qualified to judge Your children. Help me remember that all of us, including me, must give account of ourselves to You—and only to You. Help me, Lord Jesus, to bear good fruit in my own life that will bring glory to You. Amen.