The devil loves to criticize. He started it all in the Garden of Eden, introducing the very first critical thought into God’s perfect world. “Has God really said you shouldn’t eat of the fruit?” (Gen. 3:1) he asked Eve, subtly suggesting that God must be an old spoilsport, unfair and unkind to withhold something so evidently pleasurable from them. Satan criticizes God to Eve and, after getting exactly what he wanted in the lives of God’s children, thoroughly enjoyed hearing Adam begin to do Satan’s work for him. When God asked Adam what he had done, eating the forbidden fruit, Adam answered, “The woman you gave me got me to do it!” (Gen. 3:12). So Adam criticized God for giving him Eve, and he criticized Eve for giving him the opportunity to sin! Whereupon, not to be outdone, Eve criticized the snake: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Gen. 3:13). The spirit of ungodly criticism is from the pit of hell, and is a destructive force in all our relationships.
And it doesn’t stop with our relationships with others; some of the devil’s greatest victories occur when he gets us to be our own destructive critic.
But aren’t we called to examine our own hearts? Didn’t David say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart” (Ps. 139:23)? There certainly is a spiritual self-judgment that is healthy, but some aspects of ourselves are beyond our ability to evaluate. There are some things that only God can fully understand, and so Paul says, “I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait ‘til the Lord comes” (1 Cor. 4:3-5).
“Wait ‘til the Lord comes.” It sounds so simple, but it may well be that some of us will be in God’s waiting room until the second coming of Christ before the full story is ever told. Can we be content to leave it with God? Can we live with what we feel has been a personal failure, yet choose not to call it failure – or success – but leave the outcome and the evaluation with the God who sees it all clearly? Can we accept that a soured relationship may remain unresolved, and we may never know exactly what we said or did that contributed to the trouble? Coping with criticism – from within and without – begins with a willingness to not rehearse the details again and again, but rather commit the whole thing to God and get on with our lives.
Just Between Us Magazine