Faith & Insight: The crushing blow of negativity and criticism
Our response to God and his promises is what will enable us to powerfully encounter him so we can grow spiritually and reflect him in all our ways.
One choice we can make in response to the Lord and his promises for our lives deals with an issue of the heart that often manifests in what we say and what we really think. Many who claim to be disciples of Christ often struggle with being negative and critical — never thinking before they speak and making excuses, justifying, their blunt words and critical comments.
So stop and just dream for a moment about what your life would look like without negativity. How would your attitudes, emotions, and perspective be different? Would you enjoy your life more? Would others enjoy you more?
Being critical and negative is like letting weeds grow in a garden. Weeds rob the flowers or vegetables seeking to grow of the nutrition they need to not just survive, but to flourish. A critical spirit, or our negative talk, robs us of the joy we can experience in our daily pursuit of the Lord. It never serves to edify, will not produce life or lead to anything positive. It’s divisive, destructive and opposes God’s heart for those who claim to love him. Some of us have become really good about walking around this issue and perhaps now is the time to stop the insanity and embrace what the Lord is trying to address in your life.
Three truths from scripture come to mind. The first, Proverbs 18:21, says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
Being critical and speaking negatively produces junk in our lives, while speaking words of thankfulness and grace produces life.
The second truth, Proverbs 26:20, says: “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.”
We’ve all experienced the effects of gossip and slander. And yet, if we will just choose to cut out that critical spirit or negativity from our lives, we can put out the destructive fire birthed in gossip.
A third truth, Proverbs 15:4, says: “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” When one chooses to speak well of others or experiences, we will find true life produced not only in oneself, but in others as well. When one works with God and his heart to encourage, we reflect well his message of love, grace, and peace.
Being critical or negative isn’t the same as correcting wrong behavior. In fact, the Bible speaks highly of correction motivated by love. We need people in our lives who have the courage and love to correct us when we’re wrong. However, there’s no place for a critical spirit, a negative person or a gossip in the family of God. You don’t have to speak poorly about people and situations. Instead, you can choose to speak to the things you’re thankful, to the places you see grace and love abound.
God is faithful to guide you into a life lived in obedience to him. God will never give you a command he won’t help you obey. Choose thankfulness today over negativity and rid yourself of that which robs you of experiencing God’s promises. Connect with our Heavenly Father, let his love and grace stir up within you a thankful spirit and receive the help that comes from the Holy Spirit in addressing that critical or negative behavior in your life.
Nick Emery is the senior pastor at Good Shepherd Wesleyan Church. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.