Why do we criticize people? Think about it. Cause we do it. A LOT. Most of us anyway. And most of us who say that we don’t… totally do.
Why do we judge? Where does the impulse come from? Why do we feel the need to interject our criticism into the lives of others?
Because the people we judge upset us. Stress us out. Irritate us. Drive us up a wall. So what do we do? We judge. We glare. We snipe. We fire arrows. We attack. We criticize.
Now, consider all of that while reading Psalm 55:22 or I Peter 5:6-9. Psalm 55 says, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you. He will never let the righteous be shaken.” I Peter reads, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
Why do we criticize people? Why do we judge? Because we can’t control others. We hate being out of control. Things that make us feel out of control stress us out. And people we disagree with, people who irritate us, people who upset us… also stress us out. They fill us with anxiety.
So what are we supposed to do?
Humble ourselves first, then cast that anxiety — our distaste, irritation, anger, hatred or frustration with another person — on Him. If I can’t stand someone, I lift that person up to God. I “cast” that person on God. I hand that person to the Lord and ask Him, what am I supposed to do with this guy next door who *fill in the blank*? What am I supposed to do with the woman I work with that drives me insane when she *fill in the blank*?
Spoiler alert, though, God will probably answer by telling you what He’s already told us a thousand times over in Scripture. Love ’em. Pray for ’em. Befriend ’em. Treat ’em like you’d want to be treated. And always, always be ready with the gospel.
Instead of your scowl, show people love. Instead of complaining about them behind their back, pray that they’d either find Jesus or grow closer to Him. Instead of criticizing them, ask God to help you know how best to help them.
It’s not that hard to love people you can’t stand either. You might think it’s difficult but it’s easy. Here’s how you do it:
Whatever the anger, frustration, hatred, judgement, irritation or condemnation inside your heart tells you to do… do the opposite instead. Follow God’s instructions. Show God’s love. Allow Jesus to shine through you, as if His words and actions were flowing out of your mouth and hands. Let the Spirit lead you in your interactions rather than relying on your hard heart or easily irritated mind.
And just watch what happens. Cast the people who stress you out on Him, see how much He loves those people, then, when He returns them to you, and you see those people for what they are — people in need of love, in need of God, in need of the gospel — see how much that realization, that revelation from God, changes your heart.
You might be surprised how quickly criticism and judgement transforms into love and kindness. God’s a miracle worker after all. If Jesus can come to Earth, die for the lost, rise again, AND save us from our sins, He can certainly help you love Phil the obnoxious neighbor, Karen the nerve-grating co-worker, or Uncle Dan the bane of every family reunion.