My mother used to call it “a critical spirit” – she used the term to describe individuals who are usually religious and self-righteous who go around finding fault and criticizing nearly everything, while ignoring the ugliness of their own hypocrisy expressed in pride, self-righteousness, and cruel critiques of others.
During my time of “coffee with the Lord” this morning I read a case study of a “critical spirit” in the life and ministry of Jesus…
It was the Sabbath (a day devoted to rest) and Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues. In the crowd was a woman who had labored for eighteen long years with a “disabling spirit” (an affliction that was apparently demonically caused). She could not stand erect but for years had suffered painfully stooped over. Jesus saw her, had compassion for her suffering, called her out of the crowd over to himself and spoke to her and the demon afflicting her. With divine authority he said, “Woman, you are freed from your disability!” Then he laid his hands on her and immediately straightened up and glorified God! (Read it for yourself in Luke 13:10-17)
But, as is tragically often the case in religious circles, a religious leader evidenced “a critical spirit!” He was indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath (a day, after all that was uniquely dedicated to providing rest for God’s people). Interestingly, his critical remark was, “There are six days in which work ought to be done! Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day!”
What was going on anyway in this account? The Creator of the universe – the One who set apart and hallowed the Sabbath as a day of rest – had just freed an afflicted woman who labored under demonic oppression! No wonder Jesus retorted, “You hypocrites! … Ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”
As I read this account this morning in my Bible I found myself praying, Oh Lord deliver me from “a critical Spirit!” May I never fall prey to the ugliness of a self-righteous attitude that finds fault with everything – including that which is noble and good! Hypocrisy of any kind is ugly … Religious hypocrisy is even worse! Oh Lord, may I be into “healing and helping” not “hypocrisy!”