For those who have fallen into the enemy’s trap of having a hyper-critical attitude about everything in life, I have great empathy. That is a miserable condition in life where there is no experience of joy and no fulfilling love-relationships.
For those people who must live with, live near, work with, worship with, or socialize around a hyper-critical person, I have twice as much empathy. Nothing that is done (or not done), changed (or not changed), given (or not given), said (or not said) is ever right or enough. The result is always criticism, and it’s not the constructive type of criticism; it’s the no-win and lose-lose kind of critique.
God has less patience with grumbling than with a lot of other crimes of the heart and mouth. The Israelites learned this lesson, even after being warned about being grumblers (having a hyper-critical attitude).
“The Lord said: ‘How long will this wicked community grumble against Me?…
“In this wilderness your bodies will fall, every one of you… who has grumbled against Me.
Not one of you will enter the land I swore… to make your home, except Caleb… and Joshua… As for your children… I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected.”‘”
~ Numbers 14:26-31
The grumblers were barred from entering the Land of Promise while their children would inherit it. The New Testament era lesson from this Old Testament passage is this: Just because a grumbler goes to church with their family does not mean the grumbler will inherit the life of Christ in this present age or the age to come.
Let’s get more direct and personal. Are you a grumbler? Do you live life with a hyper-critical heart and attitude? Here are some traits of such a person, ask yourself if this is you, partially or fully:
- Is the weather “completely intolerable” in your region because the rain and wind messed with your hair?
- Is the driver in front of you an “absolute idiot” on the road because they are not driving your preferred speed?
- Is your doctor a “charlatan” because he doesn’t agree with your self-diagnosis or self-prognosis?
- Is your spouse “ignorant” in the bedroom because they never know what you like?
- Is your boss “clueless” at the office because she doesn’t know how to use your copier?
- Is your pastor a “hypocrite” at the church because they preach about your sin?
- Is your child an “embarrassment” at the school because they need a tutor for homework?
At different moments in the day, do you describe every day as: “The sun is too bright; it’s too dark out; it’s too dreary; it’s too hot; it’s too cold; it’s too mild; it’s too colorful; it’s too drab; it’s too busy; it’s too boring; it’s too normal…”?
Do you ever have a day where you give heart-felt praise to God for the beautiful day that He has created?
“This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
~ Psalms 118:24
Are you waiting for the world around you, the people around you, the family around you, and your spouse next to you, to align with your multitude of unique preferences that continuously fluctuate from moment to moment? Is your experience of happiness always delayed by something or someone?
The only one who is delaying your experience of happiness is… YOU!
Okay, the above is some very straight talk, but if you have a genuine desire for change that is hidden in the ocean depths of your heart, you will find the courage to humble yourself and call out from the trap into which you have fallen. Cry out to God for help!
As I said in the beginning of this devotional, I feel deeply empathetic for those who are trapped in the hyper-critical attitude of the heart. You have no judgement from me… but you are receiving a warning from me that comes from great compassion and love. Being a grumbler, having a hyper-critical heart, is very dangerous to the wellbeing of your soul.
Please, stir up the zeal within yourself to cry out to the Lord for His power to set you free. Fight and claw and crawl your way out of that miry pit that has (like quicksand) sucked your heart into its clutches. Remember, the battle is within you, it is a battle against another part of yourself; it is not a battle to get people around you to be more “this” or less “that,” they are not your enemy, they are not your battle. You are the battlefield, it’s a civil war within you between the right and the wrong, the light and the dark, the life that is of Christ and the death that is of the flesh.
Today can be the first day of your return journey to living with a gracious heart that will soon be overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5). It will start when you cry out to God with every ounce of genuine sincerity and humility, asking for His forgiveness and for His power to set you free from the trap of The Hyper-Critical Heart.
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