This is not a post about an attitude of general criticalness, though it does relate.
This is about our attitude of criticism towards other believers for the “spiritual” things they do.
There are two extremes we can slip into. On the one hand there are many who are so uncritical that anything they hear or see, they accept as Gospel Truth and as a result are blown about “with every wind of doctrine”. Then there are those whose minds are like brick walls. They attack everything and claim to have a monopoly on truth.
Going into personal experience here for a sec, I believe I can see God working on me in this area in the past few years. I remember how hard I was on other believers in my thoughts in the past. I remember constantly critiquing them, their prayers, their preaching, their lives. I thought I could do everything so much better. A good dose of reality, the reality of my own failure drug me out of a lot of that, though it is and probably always will be a struggle.
And then we can take the young woman whom I am courting as an example for a bit (I pray she will forgive me for this). A little back, as she recounted it to me, she used to tend much more towards the side of accepting whatever came down the pike without analyzing it carefully. Since then, she has matured greatly and attempts to think more about what she sees and hears in the light of scripture.
Two types of people can be imagined here. Mr. Blown-About and Mr. Critical.
Mr. Blown-About will face the challenge of a great lack of growth because he has no focus to grow towards. As every new thing comes down the pike he latches on and that is everything…. until something newer comes. This is repeated ad nauseum and Mr. Blown-About is exactly at the same spiritual depth as he was ten years ago. Shallow.
Mr. Critical will face the same challenge of a lack of growth, but in a different sense then his counterpart. His critical spirit will not allow him to see when he can learn and grow from something different. Mr. Critical will stay in stasis because, after all, the old way is the best way and boy, does he know the old way!
Both of these men will not grow. How can we get around their shortcomings and grow?
I am convinced there is no answer other than that of a firm commitment to God’s Word. When we dive in the word we find two answers. First, that in the word there is a sure guide, a solid guide and that all must bow to its teaching. Thus we will interpret all we hear through the grid of scripture vigilantly. But second, we will see ourselves as the scriptures see us, as fallible beings that can learn from each other how to better understand that word. Thus we will seek to find ways to understand scripture better as we listen to and view our fellow brothers and sisters.
There is no sure fountainhead of truth other than scripture and all in our lives must bow to this. But our understanding of that Word can be faulty and a sense of humility should be present.
So, we must be critical, but humbly critical, not thinking that our ways are the best, but always trying to seek Christ’s ways in His word. There is not surefire method to this. Just honest seeking of the truth.