March 31, 2016

Solutions for a critical spirit

One of my Christian friends is greatly interested in politics. When he is filled with God’s Spirit, he prays for political leaders and issues. When he is not, he complains bitterly about everything that is wrong in the political realm. He becomes almost paranoid, suspecting conspiracies and treason of everyone in civil leadership.

When he does this, my usual response is annoyance. I sometimes criticize his attitude. Today’s devotional reading reminds me of a better way to respond.

If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. (1 John 5:16)

When I turn around and criticize someone with a critical spirit, then I am a spiritual hypocrite. When I see someone failing, I must not turn that discernment into a poke at them, but let it move me to intercession on their behalf. As Chambers says, discernment does not happen because I have an acute mind; it comes from the Spirit of God. If I don’t pay attention to the true source of discernment, I become a “criticizing center” who has forgotten what God says: I am to take it to God and He will give life. Otherwise, I am playing the hypocrite and spending time and energy trying to get others right before God without being right with God myself.

While this is a mild rebuke (I already know better), God wants me to remember where this burden of discernment concerning other souls comes from. He reveals such things so I will bring them before Him, not being critical also, but seeking the mind of Christ. As He reveals He thinks about the issue, He adjusts my heart so I can intercede as God desires, not criticize as I desire.

Intercession is not about bringing God up to speed with what is on my mind. It is about yielding to Him so that He can convey His mind to me. When I know how He thinks and pray accordingly, He will give life to that for which I pray.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15:7)

When viewed from an eternal perspective, the concerns that I sense are always burdens from the heart of God. That being true, my view of that burden must be the same as His also. I need to be right with God, in tune with His will, abiding in Christ. Then not only can I pray in His will, but I can be certain He will respond to that prayer.

Today, I must pray for two things: that my friend is filled with God’s Spirit so that he is praying and not critical and bitter, and also for those things that burden his heart — realizing that his discernment is a revelations from the Lord who is prompting both of us to pray that His will is done.

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