How to Know if You Have a Critical Spirit

*NOTE* All scripture quotations taken from The Scriptures 1998+ unless otherwise noted.

A critical spirit doesn’t just have a question for the purpose of learning, but rather it is always questioning.

But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Messiah. For it has been written, “As I live, says יהוה, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to Elohim. Each one of us, therefore, shall give account of himself to Elohim. Therefore let us not judge one another any longer, but rather judge this, not to put an obstacle or a stumbling-block in our brother’s way. Romans 14:10-13

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines criticism as “an act of criticizing; to judge as a critic; to find fault; to blame or condemn.”

Generally speaking, these people have a negative lens on life. They might deny it in themselves, but others can see it. They move to the negative side very easily. It’s not difficult to recognize a critical spirit. Its fruit is usually very evident. Someone with a critical spirit is prone to complaining, seeing the glass as half-empty, ruing unmet expectations, sensing failure (in others more than in themselves), and being judgmental. Critical spirits are no fun to be around; neither are they fun to possess.

There can be nothing more draining than someone with a critical spirit, but when you’re accustomed to feeding it, breaking free from it can be very challenging. So many people live in criticism so much, it feels natural and actually good to them.

Their focus is on flaws and they have a hard time focusing on loving relationship, without always addressing the negative about someone or something. They tend to run people off more than retaining them for any length of time.

As with most sin, having a critical spirit is a perversion of something Elohim made to be good. Which in this case is a longing for Elohim and His perfection. But being that they lack love, they operate without the Ruach. The critical spirit controls them and they think they are actually serving Yeshua. This is a serious deception.

Obviously, critical spirits are destructive, tearing down both the recipient and one doing the criticizing.

For the entire Torah is completed in one word, in this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself. And if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! Galatians 5:14,15

Regarding people who are succeeding or doing well, the critical spirit shows up to find something wrong with them to focus on. They spend most of their communication focusing on what they are against, but very little time highlighting the good they are for and pointing out the good in others. They are rarely pleased and often tear down those closest to them.

Perfectionism and insecurity are two of the primary forces behind someone with a critical spirit. People with a critical spirit are hard to please and rarely satisfied. This makes relationship with them a miserable experience. Very little life and hope flows from them.

Remember, the scripture tells us to change our thinking. If we are critical then we haven’t done this yet. We are supposed to be renewed in our mind if we claim to love and serve Messiah.

I call upon you, therefore, brothers, through the compassion of Elohim, to present your bodies a living offering – set-apart, well-pleasing to Elohim – your reasonable worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you prove what is that good and well-pleasing and perfect desire of Elohim. Romans 12:1,2

Begin focusing on good things. Stop being a perfectionist, it is not your job to show people the direction they should go, that’s what Elohim does. It’s your job to guide your own affairs and make sure you are obeying Elohim yourself. The condition of your heart will either bring you happiness or sadness. A critical spirit does not come out of a good heart.

For a good tree does not yield rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree yield good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. For they do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. The good man brings forth what is good out of the good treasure of his heart, and the wicked man brings forth what is wicked out of the wicked treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:43-45

If you do not have the fruit of the Ruach because of a critical spirit, then neither do you have the Ruach. Don’t deceive yourself.

But you, beloved ones, remember the words spoken before by the emissaries of our Master יהושע Messiah, because they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own wicked lusts. These are the ones who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. Jude 1:17-19

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.

An unrenewed mind engages in put-downs, criticism, and sarcasm which are the world’s ways of reacting to the faults of people. Or at least what they think are faults. However, followers of Yeshua the Messiah are not to behave this way. Our thinking and attitude should be renewed by the Word of Elohim, which teaches us to bear the infirmities of the weak, to love, and show compassion and encouragement.

As you might realize, Ha Satan specializes in influencing obsessive behavior. He uses many techniques, to influence a complaining or critical attitude to stir up turmoil and strife within the body of Messiah. We must be on guard that none of us would be used as a tool of the enemy to bring harassment or discouragement upon our brothers or sisters through continual criticism, as the Bible warns us not to “give place” to the Devil.

Therefore, having put off the false, speak truth, each one with his neighbour, for we are members of one another. Be wroth, but do not sin.” Do not let the sun go down on your rage, nor give place to the devil. Ephesians 4:25-27

Remember that Ha Satan is specifically called “the accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12:10). Are you an accuser of the brethren?