Chronically Critical

Since coming to understand the Gospel of the Kingdom a few years ago and realizing that, indeed, Jesus died not *just* to pay the penalty for our sin but even more, to enable us to live victoriously over it, I am thankful to see how the Holy Spirit has worked in my life  in areas where I have long struggled in the flesh. Depression and anger are two particular strongholds.

One thing I hadn’t quite figured out, though, and couldn’t manage to shake was my chronically critical nature. I’m one of those “glass half full” people, and my children bear the brunt of my weakness in that area. I’m quick to jump on them for perceived inadequacies, nag about jobs left half-done, and let myself get discouraged because I wonder if they’re ever going to “get it.” And although I’ve recognized it as sin, prayed over it, meditated on Scriptures, and so on…it was still there. And I hate it. I’ve gone around the proverbial mountain: sin and repent, sin and repent. Try to change and do good for a while and then, lose it over something really silly like the girls leaving clothes all over their bedroom floor.

This morning, however, I had an interesting mediation on 1 John 5:3-4:

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

I affirmed to myself what I already knew: that obedience to Jesus is a necessary part of our love/faith relationship; and that through Jesus it was indeed possible to overcome sin. In fact, it’s not even “burdensome” to do so–it should not be all that difficult. Soooo…I asked myself, why do I still struggle with a chronically critical nature and allow this weakness in my flesh to cause me to sin? Why is it, indeed, such a burden–and why have I not been able to gain freedom? I’ve been through the Spiritual Inventory, which was an amazing exercise and a most helpful first step in being free from sin. I believe that my critical nature represents a stronghold and I’ve prayed over it accordingly, but still…no victory. And I as I meditated on these verses and my own persistent failures, I gained some insight that I want to share in the form of an analogy.

Since coming to Africa, we’ve struggled with all kinds of intestinal “bugs.” We’ve been thankful for the amoebicides that have helped with water-borne critters. Most recently it’s been giardia, which is difficult because the pesky little critters go through a cyst stage and “hibernate” in your intestinal tract, where they are resistant to medicinal treatment. Thus, when they emerge from the cyst stage, you have to be quick to recognize the symptoms and re-medicate. Our neighborhood chemist has been our friend as we have worked to eradicate these little guys, and “T-Zex” (the pill of choice) has become a household name.

So recently Marc was on-mission in Kimilili and recognized some of those symptoms. However, he also had a fever, which is unusual. The local hospital’s prognosis was an intestinal infection, so they have him T-Zex for the symptoms, and another series of pills which he assumed were antibiotics. He took them faithfully for several days with no relief. Finally he called our local chemist and asked about the medicine he was taking, and discovered that it was just a fever reducer and pain reliever. Apparently the doctors were unaware that in the event of infection, an antibiotic is necessary, to attack not just the symptoms but the root cause.

This series of recent events oddly came to my mind as I was meditating on 1 John 5. I realized that in the matter of my “chronically critical” nature, I’ve been attacking symptoms and trying to make the problem better (with some progress and change, to be sure). However, I was lacking a root cause analysis. And unless I determined the root cause, I really could not experience victory. As I prayed over it further, I realized that my critical nature (particularly with the children) was a result of unforgiveess. And THAT is what I needed to repent of, receive cleansing for, and gain freedom over. All possible through the power of Christ and what He has already accomplished!

You may ask, how does unforgiveness lead to a critical nature, which results in many temptations to sin? It’s simple, really. Children, it seems, are always doing something to offend. They find folly of all kinds, disobey, make messes when you’d rather they be clean, turn you into a servant when you just want to enjoy some free time, create noise when you have a throbbing headache or want to just make ONE phone call…and so on. Multiply that by our eight children and the imagined offenses just pile up. And instead of treating each “offense” individually and releasing it, my tendency is to hold on to it…to let things accumulate…so that eventually it’s all I can see. Instead of acknowledging the child’s love in bringing me flowers from the garden, I criticize them for leaving mud on the floor (because it seems all I do is clean up after everyone, and why is it that no one else notices the messes?) Instead of being pleased that she wants to help make juice to go with a meal, I get irritated that she’s spilled the concentrate–which is an ant fest, and of course I just washed the floor! I nag, remind, complain (then apologize/repent…and eventually repeat the cycle) because I carry the offenses in a spirit of unforgiveness. So of course, when another incident occurs (which it always does) I’m quick to view events through that critical lens and assume the worst rather than the best.

So in my quiet time this morning, I was able to identify the root cause that has been causing persistent problems in my spiritual walk and in my relationship with my children. I called sin, sin, and repented before the Lord–because ultimately, it is Him that I offend. I want to give Him my very best–not excuses for consistently falling short. And, through faith in Christ and in His finished work, I can trust that there is victory when satan is deprived of his authority in an area of stronghold.

I suppose I’d rather blog about stuff like this when I’ve experienced victory for more than one day…but, I thought it important to share while the meditations were still fresh in my mind. We all have areas where we struggle; we try and try and try and genuinely repent, but repeat the sin more times than we can count. But there IS the hope of victory, if we can simply recognize the true root cause of our failings and remove satan’s influence over those strongholds. Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world!

If you have not read our free ebooks, We Still Sin, Right? and The Kingdom Expansion Series, I think you will find them a blessing as you seek to glorify God and grow in Him. You can get either one of those on our site here or at our East Africa missions site,

12 thoughts on “Chronically Critical

  1. Cindy – do you need some diacetemous earth sent from the USA to help out with this or ACidophilus tabs? Maybe we can work this out?

    1. Julie, how is diatomaceous earth used/how does it help? Have not researched that at all but sounds interesting. We are using a probiotic and have tried natural antibiotics (oregano, grapefruit seed extract) to no avail. Appreciate your thoughtfulness and the offer!! 🙂

      1. Yes, I’ve read good things about diatomaceous earth for worms, it cuts them. Black walnut for parasites. I recommend Dr. Christopher books and Be your own doctor by Rachel Weaver. That’s what we use. I too grew up with amoeba and worms in South America your body will build up resistance over time. Ours did. Great article. I relate my parents were very critical, and I am critical of myself and my children!!!Thank you!!!!!

  2. Hello Cindy,
    This hit me right between the eyes this morning. Thank you for being willing to be transparent with how the Lord is working in your life. I am also a glass half-full person and yesterday I was realizing that I have so very much to be thankful for. More than things to find fault in. My parents were quick to find fault and it is easy to slide into a pattern of parenting that I know and have roots in. Still it is sin and today I confess mine as you yours and appreciate your humble sincerity my sister in Christ! Beyond grateful for the unfailing love of Christ and His finished work for me.

    1. Deena–I, too, find root in this issue with my own parents. All the more reason why I have desired victory…hate to pass the same along to my own children. Grateful along with you for the love and power of Christ in us! 🙂

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this post! This is something that I’ve struggled with and I continue to have trouble with. My step mom was always critical of me and I have to be very conscience of how I do or say things because it is so easy to ‘slip’ into the pattern of the way I was parented. I’m thankful for God’s grace and only with His help I won’t instill the critical spirit in my girls that I was raised with.

  4. Thank you for writing this post for me. Although my parents were not critical of me I am definitely just like you. I think our root causes are even the same it was like a weight being lifted off of my shoulders. I was searching for ways to make our house joyful and found your e-book and then just thought I’d go ahead and read this post. WOW! The Lord is truly king! I praise God for being a partaker of grace with you and now off to the bathroom to repent! God Bless you my friend!
    PS if you make it to Texas y’all can put your boots under my dinner table anytime!

    1. Thanks, Kyle. 🙂 Blessed to know that the Lord is working in your life and will certainly keep y’all in prayer.

  5. thanks for your post. this is me all the way– criticizing and nagging, and even if i don’t voice it, feeling grumpy and volatile like i’m boiling just under the surface, which i know the Lord doesn’t differenciate from the real explosion. your analogy touched a cord with me, and i know now that in confessing the root sin of unforgiveness, the Lord Jesus is waiting with true victory. i’ve often worried that my critical spirit and frustration ventings are estranging our girls and ruining our relationship. i plead with God to heal the hurts i’ve inflicted, whether consciously or unconsciously. we’re thankful for your honesty and sincere seeking and gracious example! cb

    1. I could have written this: “even if I don’t voice it, feeling grumpy and volatile like I’m boiling just under the surface, which I know the Lord doesn’t differentiate from the real explosion.” Yes! The Lord knows our hearts. Often when I speak to women I share my testimony–how for many years I looked like a “good Christian,” teaching Children’s Church and going to Women’s groups and discipling my children, etc…but God certainly knew my heart and was so gracious to lead me closer to Him in the truth. I, too, have prayed with much concern over the effect of my critical spirit on my children and our relationships. I stand with you, my sister in Christ, praying for your family and praising God for His victory! Was just reading this morning from John 8 and love verses 34-36: “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” Thanks be to God!!

  6. Thank you for sharing how God is working in your life. It is nice to read the exhortation and the confirmation from a sister in Christ who I feel seeks Him just as I do.

    God just revealed to me my own unforgiveness and bitterness–hiding way down deep in my heart. I was “overlooking” and “forgetting” and thinking I was forgiving, but I was not. He had someone give me a book on forgiveness (which I planned to skim and pass along, passing judgment on who gave it to me), and I was in for a surprise. God revealed this horrible root of bitterness, and it was quite shocking to realize this stronghold in my life–when I thought I was doing so well. God has shown me now how to offer a continual “clean slate” to all those He has put in my life–just like He offers to me. I have become the “eraser,” and all those who stand before me now have no trace of history or offense against me. There truly is no record of wrongs with Christ! Makes marriage a bit easier when my husband, at any given moment, has no history of wrongs–I have no perception or any judgments against him of anything he has ever done. No record of any word ever said or any deed ever done–just a complete, blank clean slate. All I have to worry about is how I am serving God by serving my husband at any given moment. How freeing to let go of all that stored information!

    God also has been showing me how to stay “buried” with Christ all day, so that Christ is raised up through me during the day instead of my horrid sinful nature. I literally put my self-interests, my self-motivations, my ideas, my thoughts–in the ground, 6-feet under, and count them dead. Christ then raises up and lives in my place. My husband likes me much better this way–and the world does NOT come to a screeching halt when my ideas cease to exist or be carried out–tough lesson, especially when as a wife and mother we DO have so much to manage! I was having a hard time getting it, but thankfully when I prayed for help, He provided it through an unexpected source (a self-published book by a brother in Texas). I am finally understanding what it means to crucify that sin nature-but still cope with living in a fleshly body. Go figure–the scriptures are PACKED with exhortations for how to do this! What an example Paul gave us! The brother who wrote this book just packs all those scriptures together over and over and over again–just for a thick-headed person like me.

    Been thinking of you all often and keeping you in prayer. My children had quite the “self-sufficiency” test as I was put in the hospital for 3 weeks (meningitis), and now at home am still unable to walk. And when it comes to losing my life so that Christ can live–did you know it doesn’t really matter how the pancakes are made? It matters to ME–but ME can be put to death quite easily. Pancakes don’t matter to God–or how they’re made. He doesn’t really care if the stairs are vacuumed, either, or how often. And it does not bring about Armageddon when I let these things go and leave the decisions about them to others. 🙂

    God bless you all as you live to let Him be glorified.

    1. Loved reading your testimony–thanks for sharing!! Sorry to hear that you have been hospitalized, though of course it’s wonderful that you see the *good* in it. Praying for you and your sweet family!

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