Criticism, blame, and judgement

What happens on judgment day to a believer who constantly criticizes others, blames everyone else for his problems, and refuses to forgive others by always bringing up their past wrongdoing?

Answer: 

I cannot say definitively what will happen on the Last Day to this constantly critical person because I cannot look into his heart. He may be a weak or immature believer reminiscent of the Corinthians with their habitually bad behavior (see 1 Corinthians 1:11; 3:1-3). Or he may be an unbeliever whose profession of faith is empty. But I can say that we all have to deal with critical people, even in the church, and important issues need to be identified and addressed whenever that happens.

I appreciate the fact that you are asking the question and expressing concern. It is not normal for believers to be so characteristically or chronically critical of others. We should not ignore, much less excuse, such behavior or take it lightly.

TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY

You describe a faultfinding lifestyle trait. This is disturbing. All of us have bad moments, are subject to bad moods, and can be critical at times. But the Bible describes a child of God as one whose dominant lifestyle is governed by the new man rather than the old. We're not talking about ethical perfection, but we are talking about a discernible habitual pattern of godly attitudes and actions, fueled and maintained by the Holy Spirit through the gospel. Constant depreciation of others and an unforgiving attitude are not compatible with true faith (as James 3:9-12 and Matthew 18:21-35 illustrate well). So we take this situation seriously.

Even if faith remains, denigrating others is not living a life "worthy of the calling [we] have received" (Ephesians 4:1). There may well be serious psychological and social issues to be addressed. Most often, as the old adage says, "hurting people hurt people." Low self-esteem and insecurity are frequently involved, and miserable people tend to prefer—or seek to create—miserable companions. Even if it's more of a superficial matter of lacking social skills like diplomacy and tact, this is serious stuff for the Christian community, since we represent our Lord when we interact with others.

TAKE TIME TO SERVE

We are to be agents of change not just identifiers of bad behavior. I am to speak straightforwardly with the critic, confront unacceptable speech, and hold professing believers in particular to biblical norms. Our Lord's clear counsel in Matthew 18:15-20 applies to this kind of situation as it does with any other departure from the command to "love your neighbor as yourself." Within the church this always involves a compassionate use of law and gospel to expose sin and underscore the grace of God for sinners. Enlist the help of fellow believers who know the person and his behavior patterns. The primary goal is to serve the person's spiritual as well as emotional needs. A companion blessing of serving the critic's needs is that it keeps us from growing bitter or becoming enablers of bad behavior through silence.

Be patient in your loving testimony to the critic. Change may not be apparent overnight. Ingrained behavior patterns are notoriously difficult to amend even if the person is repentant and growing spiritually. Expect fruits of faith, but be realistic in your expectations as you entrust the person to God's Word and Spirit, and continue your testimony to him and intercessions to God on his behalf.


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