I got in a discussion once with a lady that I knew to be a very critical person. She would complain and say, “why would someone act that way?” She always had complaints about many people and their actions and inactions. Whenever I quipped, “maybe that’s the way the person sees it,” she’ll say, “If I’m the one, I would never do it that way.”
“Why would you make your own tendencies a perfect standard of behavior? So everyone must act and respond to issues exactly the way you would? You hold people to a high standard of behavior from your own subjective perspective, and the standard is so detailed and meticulous. Yet if they come short even in a little way, you lash them either with your words or in your mind.
If you judge me with your own standards and I fail, what of if I judge you by mine? Do you know what your score will be?
The moment you’re not consulted or involved in what was done, then it is not good. It’s only what you’re involved with that is good. You never see good in what others do. If everyone is saying great things about something or someone, you’ll always find a way to point out its/their weakness just so that you can feel better about your own non-performance.
Here is a perfect mirror of the makeup of critical people.
Unfortunately, criticism is the younger brother of witchcraft because it seeks to gain control over people by making them see nothing they do as good enough, so that a time comes when they’ll really be afraid to go ahead with anything until they’ve first consulted you.
Both criticism and witchcraft are works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21 which will rob many of inheriting the kingdom of God. The Old living Bible explained criticism in Galatians 5:20 as, “the feeling that everyone else is wrong except those in your own little group.” There’s therefore a strong link between being a critical person and being a proud person.
For you to really appraise other people’s behavior and pass judgment harshly, you must have placed yourself in a higher position to those people you’re judging. You must have told yourself, “I can never make such a mistake. I’m higher than that.” Critical people are therefore very proud people.
In resisting this evil work of the flesh, the starting point is to recognise that you’re a mere spec out of several specie of men that God made. People are different and see issues differently. There is a need to develop a new culture of recognizing that people have a right to be different from you – and that includes your married partner. Respect that right and with humility accomodate it.
The other approach which has helped me over the years is the approach of always finding excuses for people in my mind so that I will not stay in offence towards them. I use this approach in relating with my wife too being the closest neighbour to me.
If I get offended with the way someone spoke to me, I tell myself, “maybe that’s how she talks on a normal day. She probably didn’t mean to be offensive.”
If I’m in a very close friend’s event and asked for an extra plate of rice as takeaway and he said no so sharply and with a stern look – I may feel very offended and something in me is saying, “am I a hungry person? What I’ve spent to support you for this event is able to buy me hundred packs of food.” I quickly silence that thought and try and understand the position my friend was. “He is under a lot of pressure, expecting many more guests and worried if the leftover packs will even go round. There I was asking for more. And certainly, he didn’t mean to be disrespectful, he was just under pressure.”
The moment I help him find an excuse, I come out of offence and able to continue walking in love towards him without even bothering to raise the issue with him at all.
Many times, we just need to put ourselves in other people’s shoes to be able to understand their actions and stay out of offense towards them.
Every day, I find excuses for people’s actions that I find offensive so that I can remain in love with them. And in reality, people always don’t mean what we have concluded is the reason behind their actions. Many times they are just being themselves without knowing their actions hurt us so much.
And even if it seems they know what they are doing, we still find an excuse for them that they don’t know what they are doing. This was exactly the example of our Lord Jesus. He didn’t want to stay in offence towards those nailing him to the cross; so, he helped them find an excuse for their actions. “Father,” He said, “forgive them for they know not what they are doing.”
If an unbeliever/nominal Christian offends you, you should easily be able to find an excuse for them. “He doesn’t have the life of Christ in him. If I also don’t have the opportunity of exposure to God’s word the way I do, I would have been worse.”
If your spouse offends you, find an excuse for them. “I know she loves me deeply. She’s only responding under pressure. She really doesn’t mean all she’s saying.
It doesn’t matter whether the excuse I create for people’s actions is exactly what it is, what matters is that I’m able to stay out of offence, I’m able to refuse being a critical person and then I’m able to continue to walk in love towards them.
“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and WALK IN LOVE, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
Ephesians 5:1-2 KJV (Emphasis mine).
Friends, if you don’t develop this new culture of finding excuses for people, being an uncritical person and having a large heart to accomodate other people’s differences, you will find marriage very difficult; you will have problems relating with in-laws, church members, colleagues at work and almost everyone. You’ll not be able to keep friends. You’ll say, “I don’t keep many friends,” but we know the problem, you’re a very critical and intolerant person. Only someone with a large heart can keep friends successfully.
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love towards your spouse to start with; your siblings; your in-laws; your neighbors; your colleagues at work; your colleagues in Church; and everyone around you – as Christ also has loved us!
Peniela E. Akintujoye.
©️Peniela Eniayo, Akintujoye| firstname.lastname@example.org