Tag Archives: A Critical Spirit

A Critical Spirit – Part 5

Have you been evaluating your words lately to determine if they are critical or edifying? Here is the link to the previous four articles in this series on a critical spirit.

As we look at a critical spirit toward others, let us use this verse as the basis. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).

I remember a time a while ago in our family when the Lord was convicting us about having critical spirits toward each other and toward those outside our family. We had observed how much that critical spirit had infiltrated our daily conversations, hurt our family relationships, and colored our views of others. We challenged ourselves not to speak critical words but edifying ones.

The path away from a critical spirit began in our hearts. “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5). It was clear that we needed to cast the beam of criticism out of our own eyes because our criticism seldom, if ever, was said in order to help another with a mote that was in their eye. For those inside our family that we were criticizing, we were usually just venting the displeasure of a discontent, judgmental heart. With those outside the family, we found that we wouldn’t have said to them what we were saying to each other, so it was obvious we weren’t trying to help them.

These verses help us see the damage that a critical spirit will cause. “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Galatians 5:15). “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain” (James 1:26).

Here is a verse that directed us in evaluating what was being said to determine whether it was edifying. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8). This verse also affirmed that the critical spirit started in the heart with what we were thinking. If we think about what Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about, it is more likely that those will be the words that come from our mouths—edifying words. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45).

If you work your way through the process of moving from critical words to edifying ones, with what will you replace the critical thoughts that drive the critical words? Here are three keys that I could give you: praise, gratitude, and contentment.

Rather than thinking negative thoughts about others, praise the Lord. “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1). Instead of letting yourself dwell on what you don’t like about another, be grateful for them. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy” (Philippians 1:3-4). If there are legitimate concerns regarding the other person, turn your heart to praying for them rather than criticizing. Finally, learn to be content as Paul learned to be content, “. . . for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

Here are a couple of verses that you could hold up against the words that you are speaking. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). “The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth” (Proverbs 10:20). Does what you are saying sound and feel like apples of gold in pictures of silver or like choice silver? Would the person hearing them agree?

The critical spirit had become such a habit in our family that at first we found it difficult to be able to talk at all. It seemed like so much of what came to our minds were critical thoughts, and then those were translated to critical words. In the process of wanting to reverse this situation, we worked at not speaking critical words and reminding those who did that it was what we had heard. We often found ourselves not saying something or starting to say it, catching ourselves, and not finishing it. That accountability within our family was a good foundation for all of us working away from critical spirits. We realized that if we wouldn’t say it to the person we were talking about, it was most likely critical and shouldn’t be said at all.

We sometimes justified critical things we really wanted to say like this, “I know this might sound critical, but it isn’t meant to be that way.” However, with those words, it was evident that there was a critical spirit at the root. Excuses and justifications did not change critical words into edifying ones.

I know there has been quite a bit of Scripture in this Mom’s Corner, but the Word is so full of wonderful verses to help us away from a critical spirit, which leads to critical words, that I wanted to share them with you. Let me include just a couple more. “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

Have you allowed a critical spirit to creep into your heart? Are there critical words coming from your mouth? Would you like to see that changed? May I encourage you to determine right now that you won’t allow critical words from your mouth and that you will allow the Lord to replace the critical thoughts with praise, gratitude, and contentment?

A Critical Spirit – Part 4

We are in the midst of evaluating how we as Christian moms can put aside criticism in our lives. The first three articles in this series can be found here.

Last month we used this verse as a theme for being a mom who isn’t critical with her children but rather is bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26).

Our heart attitudes affect whether our words are critical (tearing down) or admonishing (building up). When a mom sees problems in her children’s lives and she is frustrated, irritated, or impatient with her child, then her words are more likely to be critical. However, if the mom’s thoughts are filled with love toward her children, a desire to see them grow spiritually, and the joy in being able to disciple her children, then her words are going to be gentle words of admonishment filled with wisdom and kindness. What is filling your mind?

If we allow words to spout from our mouths in an instant reaction to a child’s misbehavior, it is more possible those words will be critical ones. “Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him” (Proverbs 29:20). As we work away from criticism and toward admonishment, timing plays a key role. “The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things” (Proverbs 15:28). I believe this verse helps us to see the importance of choosing not to react immediately to a situation, but to allow ourselves time to pray, taking any selfish, bitter, or angry thoughts captive and bringing them into the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). This also gives us time to repent of wrong attitudes if necessary and to beseech the Lord for His wisdom in responding. In general, I am not talking about hours of time but rather a minute or two.

Especially with older children, however, there may be instances when it is better not to respond at all at the moment of the problem, when criticism could come out, but rather to address it later with the child. “A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it!” (Proverbs 15:23). Sometimes the good word spoken in due season will be right away, but at other times it might be during a quiet moment with a child several hours or even days after the situation. Without the emotion surrounding the problem, the child’s heart might be more teachable than it would have been earlier, and you as well might be more prepared emotionally and spiritually for the conversation.

Remember the phrase from Proverbs 31:26, “and in her tongue is the law of kindness”? If we aren’t to be critical, then we must use the law of kindness.

Pleasant and sweet words are going to promote the change in behavior that we desire in our children, not critical ones. There is something about harsh and angry words, which seem to lend themselves to criticism, that shut a child’s spirit down. It closes itself to being teachable.

Here are a few other verses to encourage you in the importance of the words that you are using when you admonish a child. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). “The tongue of the just is as choice silver: the heart of the wicked is little worth” (Proverbs 10:20).

How much better it would be to pray with your child than to criticize him. As you pray with him and for him, it will help to quiet your heart and his as well. I believe you will find yourself less prone to speaking critical words. Here is what that kind of prayer might sound like: “Lord Jesus, You have told us how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity. We know love is patient and kind. Would You help these boys to do just that? I know they want to be obedient to You and to me.”

Our children will have positive outcomes in their lives if we deal with our criticism, but they will have negative ones if we don’t. Look at the contrast presented in this verse: “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health” (Proverbs 12:18). Critical words are ones that pierce the heart, while the kind, encouraging words bring healing to the heart. “Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad” (Proverbs 12:25). Criticism produces a heavy heart but those words spoken with the law of kindness will make it glad. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21). By our choice of words we will generate life or death in our children’s spirits. Let me also suggest some positive outcomes that you can experience as you gain victory over critical words. “A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompence of a man’s hands shall be rendered unto him” (Proverbs 12:14). “A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence” (Proverbs 13:2). “A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled” (Proverbs 18:20). All three of these verses give a similar message. They let us know that there is satisfaction that comes as a result of our positive words. There is a great amount of joy and satisfaction that we gain when the words we speak to a child are sweet, entreating, and gentle.

It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house” (Proverbs 25:24). I don’t want to be a brawling woman who lets criticism rule my interactions with my children. Instead I desire to speak with wisdom and have the law of kindness on my tongue. Next month we will move to evaluating criticism in other relationships.

A Critical Spirit – Part 3

A critical spirit is not one that a Christian mom wants to characterize her heart or her words. That groundwork was laid in the first article of this series. Last month we started evaluating, in a practical sense, how to be a mother who brings her children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord without criticizing them. Here is a link to that article.

As we move into the spiritual issues behind criticism, let’s begin by listening to our hearts, our emotions, our motives, and our words when we have that critical spirit toward our children. We want to discover what is at the root of the criticism. I can give you a few thoughts, and you will likely have some of your own.

It seems to me that the criticism often stems from a selfish focus. The thing I am criticizing in my child causes an imposition on my time, my emotions, or my energy. It may also reflect back to me my own failings or character deficiencies and therefore be even more undesirable to me in my child.

Let’s reflect on the examples from last month starting with the child who doesn’t do his chore. In the child’s failure to take out the trash, I remember my wrong thoughts when I was faced with that situation in the past. First I was frustrated because as I went to put something into the trash, it was overflowing. That in itself was an inconvenience. Then, I needed to find the child who should have taken out the trash. Usually I had plenty of other things to do, so my time was impacted. Not only did I have to get the child to do his job, but I also had to determine or deliver a consequence for not accomplishing work that was assigned to him. This impacted my emotional energy. If I had invested effort into helping my child with this problem in the past, there might be bitterness in my heart toward that child because of lack of progress.

What about the example of two children quarreling over a toy? Again we can see it takes Mom’s time to deal with the situation. It also impacts her emotions, and bitterness could be there as well, rooted in the consistency of sibling squabbles as the problems continue.

Perhaps the critical words come during times when Mom is feeling stressed, or she is tired from being up with a nursing baby or sick children. These evaluations and the information gathered from them are important in order to effect change.

I believe the key to becoming an encouraging, admonishing mom from a critical one is found in this verse: “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26). Wisdom and kindness—they are certainly in our hearts and, for most of us, would characterize our desire for our interactions with our children, even when correcting them. How do we move toward the goal?

Wisdom will help us with wrong heart attitudes. In addition, it will allow us to direct our children in positive ways. That wisdom grows from our relationship with the One Who is wisdom personified, Jesus Christ. We must have His grace, His mercy, and His strength. That means lifting our hearts in prayer and also spending time with Him in His Word each day so that He can transform those areas of our lives that aren’t pleasing to Him and prepare us for our interactions with our children.

If you have discerned that selfishness is at the root of your critical words, then as you are reading Scripture, you will discover verses that have to do with self-denial and servanthood, such as the following:

“And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.” (Mark 10:44)

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

When a situation comes up where the selfishness wants to manifest itself, you will immediately begin to pray, asking the Lord for His strength and help. Then you can do as 2 Corinthians 10:5 says and take your thoughts captive: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

The process might sound like this. “Lord Jesus, You know I don’t want to give up what I had planned to do with this time to work with my children and help them learn to be kind to each other. However, I love those children more than anything, and I desire that they would become loving to each other. Thank You for calling me first to serve You and then to serve them. While to me it feels like self-denial to set aside what I had planned to do right now, taking time to instruct and correct them is really no self-denial at all. Would You give me Your patient, wise, and kind spirit as I now work with them?”

While this may seem simplistic, I encourage you to make yourself take time to pray like this. It allows you to move away from your selfish thoughts and attitudes, to appropriate God’s power, and to put right thoughts into your mind.

“The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so” (Proverbs 15:7). “The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness” (Proverbs 15:2). When you have cultivated that relationship with Jesus Christ and have been learning from Him, wise words will first come to your heart and then from your mouth. However, without His wisdom, you will likely be left feeling like the fool from these verses because of the critical words characterizing your interactions with your children.

I encourage you to memorize Scripture if you are struggling with a critical attitude toward your children. Having memorized Scripture will also allow you to quickly give your children a biblical reason to eliminate negative behavior and to encourage positive behavior. Here are links to a series of Mom’s Corners about memorizing Scripture.

Perhaps you will tell me that it is too difficult to memorize Scripture or that you don’t know what verse to use at the particular moment. Consider this: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). If you struggle with those problems, the Lord has a solution. Ask Him for wisdom. He can help you memorize, and He can bring to mind the appropriate verses.

“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands” (Proverbs 14:1). I want to be a wise woman whom the Lord can use to build my house. Do you? If so, I encourage you to decide today to spend time in the Word every day—time that will help you grow away from a critical spirit and allow you to disperse wise words to your children. Repent of a critical spirit and critical words, and ask the Lord for His strength and wisdom to help you in your weakness. We have gotten started in our quest to discover how we can raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord without being critical of them. Next month we will dig deeper.

A Critical Spirit – Part 2

Last month we were discussing a critical spirit. We started with evaluating the results of having a critical spirit and speaking critical words. If you haven’t read that article, it can be found here.

Several of the responses to the July Mom’s Corner generated a desire in my heart to take the order of the information in this series differently than I had originally planned so that it practically addresses the issues with which you are dealing. The main question that came in concerning being critical was along these lines: “How can a mother raise her children for the Lord Jesus Christ without constantly criticizing them?”

Here are a couple of those e-mails:

“I loved this month’s Mom’s Corner.

I’ve never considered myself to be habitually critical, but I find myself lately being more and more so! Where did this come from? I am eagerly waiting for next month’s Corner to learn how to gain victory over it. I am especially interested in your thoughts on it regarding the mother’s role in correcting children . . . especially recurring issues that tend to lead to nagging.” Sandy

“I just recently read your July Mom’s Corner. Thank you for choosing such a great topic for me as I seem to struggle much in this area. It seems that every night I go to bed and ask the Lord’s forgiveness for nagging and discouraging my children. I also beg for a new day with a new approach tomorrow. And so the cycle continues with not much difference, unfortunately. I have posted verses in my kitchen window and like I said prayed often. How discouraged I am. But I also can’t seem to figure out what to say to encourage children who are NOT trying very hard and are NOT doing all to the glory of God. It feels very false to find something to encourage in those moments. Any thoughts on this? What do you say when the effort is just not put forth and their attitudes are poor? Thank you for your time.” Carrie

As Christian mothers we desire to raise our children as Ephesians 6:4 tells us, “ . . . bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” In this process, we know that it will be necessary to correct our children, point out what they have done wrong and what they have neglected to do. Certainly as we do this, our children are the last ones we would ever want to discourage through criticism because we love them so very much. Instead we have the goal to encourage and spur them on as they grow not only in stature but also in wisdom. Yet like Carrie, when we teach, correct, and perhaps discipline for the same offenses over and over, we can find ourselves in a vicious cycle of frustration, criticism, repentance, prayer, hope, and then failure again.

“Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands” (Proverbs 14:1). Perhaps as we consider overcoming a critical spirit toward our children, we could think of this verse as reminding us that we will either build up or pluck down our families with our words.

What would be the difference between criticism and the admonishment we are biblically directed to give our children? Do you remember the definition of criticism? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary it is, “to find fault with; point out the fault of,” but the definition of admonishment is, “to give friendly earnest advice or encouragement to.” Criticism negatively states the fault while admonishment positively moves the child away from the problem and toward the solution. There is a huge difference in these two not only in the words that are used but also in the attitude behind the communication.

Observe the difference between a critical mom and an admonishing mom. Here are the type of words that can come from the frustrated mother. “How many times have I told you to take out the trash? You never listen to what I say. How will you ever grow up to be a responsible man if you can’t even take out the trash? You’d better get this trash out now!” Can you see the tearing down effect of these words on the child’s heart? Do you almost get a feeling of vengeance?

There is a definite tone of voice with this conversation that communicates to the child the level of his mother’s unhappiness. These words are personal attacks on the child, leaving him without direction or hope, just a feeling of failure. She also undermines her goal of helping her child be responsible because she doesn’t assign him a consequence.

Let’s hear from the admonishing mom. “Son, you have the responsibility to take out the trash. Since you haven’t done it, you need to stop what you are doing, and do it now. I am also giving you lunch cleanup alone as a consequence for not doing your chore. It is important that you grow up to be a responsible man. That starts right now by learning to do the things that are assigned to you to do. Colossians 3:17 says, ‘And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.’ Do you know that would mean even when you take out the trash you are doing it for the Lord and in His Name? It is to be your best for Him. I know you can do that.”

This mom maintains a gentleness to her words and interactions with her son even if this is the tenth time that week she has had this same conversation with her child. “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). That tone of voice encourages the child rather than discourages him.

Proverbs 16:21 tells us that “. . . the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.” When we correct a child, our aim is that he would learn something from our words. Therefore, it is imperative that we choose not to allow those tones to creep into our words of correction but rather keep them gentle, pleasant, and sweet.

Next we can see that she gives her child a consequence. “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul” (Proverbs 29:17). Mom isn’t critical, angry, or harsh with her child. She simply tells him his consequence and waits patiently for the rest and delight to her soul that is to come from her correction. That may be a work that is awhile in the process.

A tool that we recommend to help you with consequences is the If/Then Chart. The theory behind the If/Then Chart is to tie a specific Scripture to actual wrong behavior along with a consequence. On the chart are offenses children can be guilty of committing, a verse for why that behavior is unacceptable, and a consequence that the parent has chosen. Then when something happens, all Mom has to do is go to the If/Then Chart rather than having a critical attitude or critical words for her children. Consistent correction will help the child overcome the problems that are instigating the critical spirit in the mom.

While the admonishing mom definitely points out what her child didn’t do, she gives no judgment about the past or the future. She doesn’t sound disappointed in her child, but instead holds out the expectation that it will be better for him in the future.

How about another example. Two sisters are squabbling over a toy loudly enough that Critical Mom becomes involved saying, “Stop it, right now! Just stop it! You two are supposed to be best friends, but you act like worst enemies. I am sick and tired of listening to you fight with each other. You know better than to act like that. Won’t you ever learn to get along?” Those critical words might stop the quarreling temporarily, but they aren’t going to be the impetuous for lasting change.

Let’s move our attention once again to Admonishing Mom. “Girls, I am sorry that you aren’t nicely sharing the toys. You will need to sit on a dining room chair for five minutes. Then you can try again. Remember Ephesians 4:32 tell us, ‘And be ye kind one to another . . .’ If you don’t share with each other, you are not being kind. When the timer goes off, you may return to your room where I am sure you can both be nice to each other by sharing your toys.” Here we observe pleasant words, a consequence, Scripture to back up the positive behavior, and the hope that they will be successful next time.

Try having a biblical plan to help you overcome critical words. That plan would include sweetness of the lips, consistent consequences, and words of encouragement rather than despair. I even suggest that you practice in front of your bathroom mirror each day a couple of interactions with a child who needs to be corrected. I think that will help gentleness become the norm over criticism. Next month I would like to delve into the spiritual roots of criticism, but my prayer this month is that these practical suggestions will start not only Sandy and Carrie toward their goal of avoiding the trap of criticizing their children but also you as well.

A Critical Spirit – Part 1

I remember years ago eating lunch out with my mom when we were shopping one day. We were having pizza, and I ordered a large soda with my meal. When the drinks were delivered, I was disappointed to discover that my cup wasn’t filled to the brim. Quite quickly I muttered, “They sure were stingy with my drink. Look how much more they could have put into this glass.”

My mom smiled and responded with, “Wow. I was just thinking what a huge glass of Pepsi that was.”

Have you ever known someone who seems to find something negative in almost every person or situation? Not only do they think those thoughts themselves, but they also share them with whomever is nearby. Do you enjoy being around that person? What about you? What kind of thoughts do you allow into your mind? Are they critical, or are they edifying?

In the soda cup example, I had the critical attitude, while my mom had the positive one. There were certainly two ways to look at that glass. One view would cause negative feelings, agitation, discontentment, and unhappiness. I was finding fault with the one who had prepared my drink and served it to me without that drink being as full as I thought it should have been. The other way of looking at the glass of soda would most likely lead to a peaceful heart, contentment, gratitude, and pleasure.

Do you know what the dictionary definition of criticism is? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary it is, “to find fault with; point out the fault of.” With that definition, consider these verses: “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be” (James 3:8-10). “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men” (Titus 3:2).

One of the goals we have for our children is that they would learn to edify rather than criticize. We have even listed that goal in our family vision statement with these two verses: “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another” (Romans 14:19). “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Teaching our children to edify rather than criticize would begin with my personal example.

A critical spirit can cause damage to relationships. Consider the mother who generally points out her children’s failures, while continually picking and nagging at those children. Does that draw the child’s heart to the mom? No, the outcome of criticism is likely to be a child who draws back from the mother, trying to protect his heart from the pain of more disappointment that is bound up with the negative words from the mom’s mouth. Critical words play a role in those kinds of attitudes.

What about the wife who speaks to her husband of each thing he does that she doesn’t like or doesn’t believe he does very well? Even if she is not yelling at him, what do those critical words do to their relationship? What does he come to expect in the relationship? Does that draw his heart to her? What if she were to only point out seventy-five or fifty percent of those aspects of his behavior that displease her? Would that make it better? “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike” (Proverbs 27:15 ). I wonder if it is possible that criticism could be part of what can make a wife contentious.

How do you feel about the friend who regularly tells you of others’ failures or spends her conversation with you complaining about her husband or children? When her focus is on these details of life, does it make you want to seek her out for fellowship? Does it cause your heart to feel burdened or joyful?

On Friday, Steve and I were enjoying a lunch date at our favorite, local Mexican restaurant. When we were finished eating, he reached across the table, took my hand, and told me how much he loved me and loved being with me. While those words brought much joy to my heart, the Lord also used them to bring conviction.

In that moment, I was instantly returned to the conversations between us while we ate, and I recalled a couple of things that I had said that could have been construed as critical comments. Having begun to work on this Mom’s Corner, criticism was quite fresh on my mind. I realized how much more pleasant it would be for Steve during our times of communication if I didn’t put any negative thoughts into his mind through critical words.

Remember that there is harm that comes from criticism: first to others but also to the one who thinks and then speaks the critical words. Criticism separates relationships as we observed in a mother/child relationship and in a husband/wife relationship. It will be true of other relationships as well. It causes those who are the recipients of the criticism to form a shell of protection from the critical words which then distances a relationship. If I am listening to a person who is prone to criticism, I soon find that their poison infiltrates my mind even if I try to resist it.

In my walk with the Lord, it has been my desire to move away from a critical spirit to one that edifies. I would like to look at the process of gaining victory over a critical spirit in next month’s Mom’s Corner. In the coming days, I encourage you to listen carefully to yourself. Are your words critical, or are your words edifying? Maybe you could benefit from evaluating criticism with me from a biblical viewpoint. If you have allowed a critical spirit to become a part of your life, then you might consider letting the Lord prune it away from you as we study this topic in more depth. I think this would be a worthy goal for each of us: “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness” (Proverbs 31:26).