For years I lived offended in our marriage. Instead of helping my man in his weaknesses, I got an invisible but heavy chip on my shoulder when I sensed him struggling. Instead of praying for this one I vowed my love, I continually criticized him in my mind, one by one stacking more bricks on the wall between us. (Until the day it collapsed and nearly took us both out for the count.)
Chronic criticism doesn’t help those we love. We think it helps because we want to aid in their changing. But criticism pushes people away.
God graciously revealed the massive log in my eye a few years back with regard to criticism and living offended. And He taught me these four things — things we can do in efforts to help those we love when we see them entangled.
- Remember that we don’t know everything. We might need to just say that out-loud, “I don’t know everything.” It’s impossible for us as humans to grasp the many, many facets of a person’s heart. Only God sees and perfectly understands. We need to remember that we do not know everything.
- Remember that every single person on the planet is in process. “Including me,” say it with me. None of us have arrived at Christlike perfection. And until He comes again, we will continue to be sanctified. To live under His blessing, we need to give people grace, allowing them the freedom to be clay in their Potter’s hands. Because that’s how I pray others treat me in my own “process of becoming”.
- Explore the root of our offense. Ask, “Am I offended because of what they are doing — rebellion that grieves His Spirit?” or “Am I offended because I fear something I cannot control?” If it’s the latter, then we need to remember that He did not give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). He is in complete control. And not only that, His love guides what He allows into the lives of His children. We need to stand there and believe Him faithful when fear settles down.
- Pray! Pray. Instead of criticizing those we love — either verbally or in our thought-lives — let’s pray for them in their weaknesses. It’s our calling as the Body of Christ — intercede out of love.
We all struggle. Every single one of us. And in my struggles against my own weaknesses, I desire that others walk patiently beside me. May I give that same gift of grace when I see weaknesses in those I love.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Fill me, Lord…
How have you wrestled with criticism for those you love?
How can you practically love them, even with your thought-life?