“If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2).
Have you ever had a critical spirit? You see someone doing something wrong, or perhaps engaged in a habitual behavior that needs addressing and you address it with judgment, or a critical spirit? Why is it that Christians seem to so easily fall into the habit of criticalism?
One answer is found in the scripture itself. When we read the Bible we see many mentions of sins which displease God. From the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17 to the unrepentant sins of Revelation 22:11, the Bible is filled with descriptions of sin, their consequences, and sometimes their punishment. We look at these and it’s easy to identify the behavior of others against these things. Thus, we judge.
There is a place for judgment. But, more so, there is a place for mercy. The person who is truly spiritual doesn’t concern himself with a person’s judgment, except to rescue him from it. That’s why Paul says, “You who are spiritual should restore him.” Did you catch that? The spiritual thing to do is to restore, not condemn or be critical. And we must do so in a, “Spirit of gentleness.”
Do you want to be like Christ in this? Recall God’s declaration of his name in Exodus 34:6-7. While God described himself as wrathful against sin, that is not the first thing he said. When asked to reveal himself, God said, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” Now, this isn’t all that he said, but the important point is to remember that this is what he started with. God’s first concern is to forgive, restore, build up and encourage. He doesn’t want to express wrath if he doesn’t have to. And so, he choose these things first, before judgment. And in the life and death of Christ he made punishment an act of mercy.
“The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin” (Exodus 34:6-7).
When you sense a critical spirit coming on, ask yourself if the situation really requires it. How can you act differently?