Criticalness or Discernment?

A friend of mine recently expressed her sorrow over being a critical person.  I did not see her in that way.  What I saw was a woman of keen discernment.  She may have had moments when she operated in criticalness, but by and large, she was picking up on things in the spirit that she needed to know for her own safety and for the safety of those she ministers to.

Many Christians struggle with being critical, or with thinking they are.  It is important not to judge others, but if we are so afraid of judging that we are not allowing ourselves to hear clear warnings prompted by the Holy Spirit, we are missing out on important guidance from the Lord.

True discernment is deeper than merely observing others’ faults.  It is understanding of what is really going on, of motives behind actions, of heart attitudes.

There are two types of discernment – the natural and the spiritual.  Even those who are not Christians can have a natural discernment gift.  We say they are astute, and that no one can pull the wool over their eyes.  They tend to be analytical, understand how people tick, and are able to work well with others as a result.

God can impart to us a higher level of discernment as well.  People who operate in spiritual discernment will sometimes feel an uncomfortableness or an inner warning that something is not right about a person or situation.  God may be giving them discernment for the sake of protecting the local body of Christ from hidden evil.  God does not give us discernment about wrong in another person merely so that we can have inside information.  It is to help the person, or to protect ourselves or the local church.

There is a flip side to every weakness, and so it is with criticalness and discernment.  A character flaw is nothing more than a God-given character strength that has been marred by our fallen, sinful nature.  When sin entered the world, it corrupted the good things that God had placed within mankind.  God wants to restore us by remaking our flaws into the strengths they were originally intended to be.  For instance, stubbornness made positive becomes persistence or tenacity.  Bossiness, when trained and modified with tact and a motive of servanthood, becomes excellent leadership.  Criticalness is the peculiar flaw of those whom God has gifted in discernment.  Although discerning people may always struggle to some degree with judging others, God’s redemptive plan is to make something useful and powerful for His kingdom out of what was once a weakness.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about how to tell the difference between criticalness and discernment.

Next: Criticalness or Discernment? (Part 2) 


River Life Adult Character Study


This article is based on an excerpt from Lee Ann’s book, River Life: Entering into the Character of Jesus, an adult Bible/character study, suitable for use by the individual or as part of a group study.  For more info and sample pages, please visit our web site.


6 responses to “Criticalness or Discernment?

  1. Pingback: Criticalness or Discernment? (Part 2) « Out of the Fire

  2. Thank you very much
    I never could understand the word discernment
    it is pretty clear the way you explained it
    thank you. I believe I am blessed with the gift and ….. You don’t know how I am so blessed today I do attend a prayer meeting charismatic at Saint Marie chapel Lynn Mass on Monday morning today I feel totally different I learned so much from your site please keep writing them…my dream is to vow myself to God as I get older to learn more so I can teach my grand children when I have them I pray that Father of the Universe would keep me on earth for a long time so I can fulfill my dream what I am working on now is sometimes although I do believe yes I believe and I thank God for creating me in Jesus name it happen with the economy I have doubt in my budget one thing I said he pulled me very far once he will do it even better this time so I can glorify his name thank you thank you thank you I feel good I feel blessed may God continue to bless you … till he comes
    he kept Abraham for a long time David and the others let believe may his powereful spirit keep us enrich our mind with his words
    thank you I believ


  3. Thank you may God bless you


  4. Pingback: Changing Your Negatives into Positives « Out of the Fire

  5. I happened onto your site today and saw the title “Criticalness or Discernment” which caught my eye. I have often said that “criticalness is discernment gone awry.” That when you see something (worth criticizing) it is because God is wanting you to pray and seek Him about it. It’s easy to forget and react out of the flesh instead. But once you understand that you have discernment it can more quickly turn those things you “see” into prayer. I can see by your article that you we have a similar view of this weakness/strength. I discovered it, by the Holy Spirit–by looking at what I thought was my own “critical spirit”. I really appreciate your insights and encouragement that this very thing is something that can be used redemptively.

    Thanks for that confirmation!



  6. Pingback: Finding Strengths in Your Child’s Weaknesses (Part 1) | The Character Building for Families Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.