CP 247 A fast on criticism...
CP 247 A fast on criticism…
Hello friends, this week I’m going to share with you a brief chapter from a book I’ve been reading called Intercessory Prayer. (Leonard LeSourd editor) The article was written by Catherine Marshall, of ‘A man called Peter’ fame. You get the whole thing without further comment.
“I have long since learned that my day gets off to a poor start unless I can begin it by being alone with the Lord for at least a few minutes of worship and prayer. During this time I often ask, ‘Lord, do you have any special word for me today?’
One morning His answer was especially clear, and to say the least, startling. He reminded me of a scripture passage I had not thought of in a long time: ‘So let us stop criticizing one another…’ (Romans 14:13, Moffatt). My assignment: For one day I was to go on a ‘fast’ from criticism. I was not to criticize anybody about anything.
A confession is in order here. I am inclined to be a perfectionist, and have therefore, always been a highly critical person.
Into my mind crowded all the usual objections: ‘But then what happens to value-judgements? You yourself, Lord, spoke of righteous judgement. What does that mean? How could society operate without critiques?
All such resistance was brushed aside. Just obey Me without questioning: an absolute fast on any critical statements for the day.
As I pondered this assignment I realised there was an even humorous side to this kind of fast. What did the Lord want to show me?
For the first half of the day I simply felt a void, almost as if I had been wiped out as a person. This was especially true at lunch with husband Len, my mother, and my secretary. Several topics came up about which I had definite opinions. I listened to the others and kept silent. Barbed comments on the tip of my tongue about certain world leaders were suppressed. In our talkative family, no one seemed to notice.
Bemused, I noticed that my comments were not missed. The federal government, the judicial system and the institutional church got along nicely without my penetrating observations. But I still didn’t see what this fast on criticism was achieving – until mid-afternoon. For several years I had been praying for one talented young man whose life had gotten sidetracked. Perhaps my prayers for him had been too negative. That afternoon, a specific, positive vision for his life was dropped into my mind with God’s unmistakeable mark on it – joy.
Ideas began to flow in a way I had not experienced in years. Now it was apparent what it was the Lord wanted me to see. My critical nature had been stifling creativity – perhaps even the ideas he wanted to give me.
The following Sunday night in Bible Study, I told of my day's-fast experiment. The response was startling. Many admitted that criticalness was one of the chief problems in their offices or in their marriages or with their teenage children.
My own character flaw here is not going to be corrected overnight. But in thinking this through, I find the most solid scriptural basis for it. The Greek word translated ‘criticize’ in Moffatt is rendered ‘judge’ or ‘judging’ in the KJV. All through the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus sets himself squarely against our seeing other people and life situations through this negative lens.
More experimenting is needed with this type of fast. Perhaps we intercessors could share our further discoveries with one another as we do. What I’ve learned so far can be summed up as follows:
1. A critical spirit focuses us in on ourselves and makes us unhappy. We lose perspective and humour.
2. A critical spirit blocks the positive creative thoughts the Lord longs to give us.
3. A critical can prevent good relationships between individuals and often produces retaliatory criticism.
4. Criticalness blocks the positive attributes of the Holy Spirit within us – love, good will, mercy.
5. Whenever we see something wrong in another person, rather than criticise him or her directly, or talk to others about this person, we might ask the Spirit of God to do the correction work needed.
This scripture seems to wrap it up for me:
‘So we do not criticise at all; the hour of reckoning has still to come, when the Lord will come to bring dark secrets to the light and to reveal life’s inner aims and motives. Then each of us will get his meed of praise from God.’ 1 Corinthians 4:5, (Moffatt translation)
In Place of Criticism
Oswald Chambers warns us, ‘We see where other folks are failing, and we turn our discernment into the gibe of criticism instead of into intercession on their behalf. (Italics mine... Fred) He reveals things in order that we may take the burden of these souls before Him and form the mind of Christ about them.’
When Christ touches us and brings us alive in the spirit, He gives us a more sensitive discernment about others – something we cannot have unless we first ‘stop criticising one another.’