“Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.” Matthew 7:1-5 (MSG)


Have you ever had someone who isn’t close to you come up to you and point out your flaws? Maybe it was about something trivial like being late to an event, not returning a phone call, or being seen with the wrong type of person. When people begin to point the finger at us, it can be very hurtful and disheartening.

Jesus warned us in Matthew to steer clear of a critical spirit. In the same way that enthusiasm is contagious, a critical spirit can spread like wildfire.  If we don’t keep ourselves in check, it can be easy to look at the faults and mistakes of others disproportionately to our own.  When we start focusing on areas that others lack, it can make us feel better about ourselves. But the circle of criticism can steal our joy, contentment, and peace. Then, instead of seeing the best in people, we see the worst. The interesting part is that it can invade our thoughts when we least expect it.  We are at work, minding our own business, and start to think about how our co-worker is so inadequate. Maybe you are at home with your family, and you keep pointing out the failures of your spouse.  The critical cycle will continue if we don’t stop it.  Next time you are tempted to point the finger, ask God to help you work through your own faults and failures. As you do, your mind will turn to prayer, and the negative attention that you were giving to other people’s failures won’t matter anymore.

Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002.  Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.