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People who know me well will tell you that I can tend to be critical on occasion. Now that is true, but I have to admit that I do not like to be critical. Nevertheless, I often find myself jumping to conclusions and looking down on certain things even when the evidence may not warrant it.

Several things contribute to this tendency. In some areas I tend to be a perfectionist and can fall into the danger of thinking that I can do certain tasks better than anyone else. Some of my friends can also be on the critical side and this only feeds my critical spirit.

Ultimately, however, my tendency to be critical comes from my flesh. Since the Fall, all of humanity has thought that we can live our lives completely independent from God or anyone else for that matter. For some, anger and hostility manifest this idea that we can sit apart from the world and render perfect judgment on events and people therein. For others like myself, the problem is not so much with anger but with the inclination to criticize at all times and in all places.

Recognizing this flaw in myself and attempting to correct it with prayer and accountability has not been an easy task. Part of the problem I think is that all too often some of the most critical people I have known have been church people. This very well may not be true across the board, but it is something I have seen, at least in my own limited experience.

Often this criticism manifests itself at church council meetings when questions of leadership and decisions have been raised. More commonly, however, it manifests itself through subtle, unspoken feelings toward one’s pastor or in backbiting gossip about people in leadership.

Being overtly critical towards our leaders whether directly or indirectly shows that our hearts are far from the will of God. For the Lord has given us leaders in the church for our benefit. As the author of Hebrews says, they watch over our souls and must be obeyed (Heb. 13:17).

Of course, this does not mean we overlook major flaws or severe lapses of character. However, most criticism that I have levied or that I have heard from others has not been due to such things. Too often we find the most minor issue to complain about because then we have justification not to obey our leaders.

But this is not how it should be. We are to submit joyfully to our godly leaders. Therefore, let us do so not critically, but with eager hearts.

Living by the Royal Law

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From the December 2004 Issue
Dec 2004 Issue