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Today’s Truth

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10 NIV.)

Friend to Friend

I didn’t know her well, but one thing that stood out about her was her words. A constant stream of unwanted and unsolicited critique flowed from her lips. It often made the person on the receiving end feel small. Honestly, it was confusing.

One day we just happened to be at the same event. This woman had a family member with her. When the event ended, the woman jumped in to help clean up. I couldn’t help but notice how the older family member shadowed her, critiquing her every move. Nothing she did seemed to be right.

Oh, that’s where it came from.

This not only gave me insight but compassion for her. Isn’t it crazy how we hold on to, or even pass down, critical words when they’ve been spoken over our own heart? When I look up the definition of the word critical, it’s harsh. It includes words like:

Condemning.

Disparaging.

Disapproving.

If you’ve been on the receiving end of a critical person, it may make you feel. . .

Condemned.

Nitpicked.

Not enough.

So, how can we break this cycle?

It’s key to understand the difference between constant or chronic criticism and helpful critique. The first highlights all the vulnerable parts of who you are and completely overlooks the good. It’s dished out by a critical or even broken person. The words poke. They prod. They leave a mark. Helpful critique recognizes all the valuable parts of who you are or what you did, while gently revealing areas where you can grow.

Second, it’s important to remember that we are a good work.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

In a few versions of this scripture, we are described as a masterpiece. That can feel a little hard to accept, especially if you’ve been on the receiving end of a toxic or chronic critique. Yet, it’s vital we understand that we were created for a purpose. We were formed in the image of God. When we embrace the words of a critical person as our identity, we are giving away a portion of a good thing.

So, how do we practice this in real life?

  • Remember that while their words carry weight, God’s words matter more.
  • Confront unhelpful criticism by pouring out God’s word over your heart daily. His words are a shield, a light, and help you distinguish between what is true and what is not.
  • Remember that your identity as God’s masterpiece is not theirs to take. And just as important, that chronic, unhelpful criticism is not yours to receive.
  • And while you’re at it, be kind to yourself. Refuse to repeat chronic or unhelpful criticism from anyone over your own heart.

The good news is that you don’t have to embrace, pass down, or be identified by anything other than who God says you are – for you are the handiwork of a good, good God.

Let’s Pray

Jesus, I may not be able to stop the hurtful words that fall from the lips of another, but I don’t have to hold on to them as if they are true. Expose all the words I’ve tucked away in my heart that don’t belong there. If I ever feel tempted to drop those critical words over another, help me see that person as you do.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

What are a few critical words that have been spoken over you that you refuse to speak over someone else?

Put a big X through those critical words that have been spoken to you.

Write three words above that describe how God sees you.

If being critical is a go-to, ask the Holy Spirit to shine a light on that and for help and healing. That is a strong, beautiful move.

More from the Girlfriends

Many of us have things to unpack from our past or other unhelpful sources. The beautiful news is that our relationship with God helps us discover who we truly are.

Throughout Suzanne’s book, JoyKeeper: 6 Truths That Change Everything You Thought You Knew About Joy, she shares how to confront lies that feel true, and how that leads to joy that cannot be stolen.

Read the first chapter of JoyKeeper absolutely free.

© 2021 by Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.

9 Responses to “Breaking the Cycle of a Critical Spirit”

  1. Carol says:

    Good Am. Suzanne, and Thank you for the words of encouragement!
    Just this weekend, I was taking care of and helping with a sick relative’s daily responsibilities, when I found myself saying “wow…Ijust can’t do anything right here…Lord, help me?!”
    I found that, even though myself and my relative were at odds, I was doing God’s work. It wasn’t a “masterpiece” in the eyes of the person, but, God saw my efforts and His “strength was made perfect in (my) weakness”.
    Just this am. I was told, that my help was appreciated and I was told “Thank You.”
    God does have a away of gently, working His magic with prickly people!
    Thank you, for this blessing you gave me.

  2. Tiffany says:

    This was much needed. Thank you!

  3. Carola says:

    Gracias 😇

  4. Chriss Kleiman-Moore says:

    I so needed to hear this. I’m going to save this devotion so I can read it often. Thanks for this,

  5. Cheryl says:

    Hi Susie,
    How important this to remember as a parent. What we say can leave indelible marks on our children. If we can learn to make every remark to them an encouraging lesson that helps them to blossom into that person God has planned for them to be, it will be shared by them to those they encounter. They will pay it forward as Jesus did for us.

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