There is no excuse for Christians to be critical of one another. Jesus’ only prayer for the entire church is that we would be unified. Perhaps that’s why the church is divided into so many denomination and so many congregations are divided into cliques. As soon as we recognize that we have gotten into habits inspired by the devil, why, we just have to break them and develop new ones in their place.
In Romans 12:1-2, Paul instructs not to be conformed to the world but to become a living sacrifice. In one way or another, every word from their to the end of the book describes or defines what a living sacrifice acts and looks like. Here’s how to be a living sacrifice regarding criticism: “Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and stand he will, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4 (NASB)
Every person you meet is someone’s servant in a way, and almost certainly not yours. For example, have you ever stood in line at the DMV, unemployment office, etc. It appears that all the people on the other end of the counter move at a snail’s pace and seem little interested in the people in line. Yes you pay the taxes that pay their salaries, but they don’t work for you. They have other supervisors they answer to. “To their own master they stand or fall.”
There’s no point in being critical. All it does is flood your own body with acids and hamper your health. If you speak harshly to one of them and they get upset, well, it floods his or her body with yucky chemicals, too, but nothing changes. There may well be a legitimate criticism that you can handle in a legitimate way, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about that sour, judgmental spirit of criticism that exists only to create tension.
Every Christian you meet is God’s servant. Paul tells us something else that’s very important when it comes to God’s servant. He has already decided that his servants will stand. Just as God has promised to be a shield for you from being hurt by your enemies, if you become critical and thereby make yourself another Christian’s enemy, God has promised to be a shield to protect him or her from you!
I confess I have wasted too much time and energy wondering if some professing Christian or other is really saved. It’s none of my business. The Bible does talk about the need for one Christian to correct another, but that’s in a spirit of meekness, not a spirit of judgment or criticism. Meanwhile, God has already decided that that other Christian will stand and is able to make him stand.
But that’s not all: what right do I have to be critical of myself? What’s the point in wondering, when I mess something up, if I’m really saved or whether I’ll fail in God’s sight? Self-criticism and self-judgment focus my attention in the wrong place, on me. I should go to God, confess, repent, receive forgiveness, and move on. (That’s move on, not move back to the same thing that got me in trouble in the first place!). God has already decided that I will stand, and he is able to make me stand.