the uncritical temper

This is the most convicting piece of literature I’ve read in a while.  I think that Chambers pins the issue down.  Matthew 7:1.  No escape. Buckle up:

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” Criticism is part of the ordinary faculty of a man, he has a sense of humour, i.e., a sense of proportion, he sees where things are wrong and pulls the other fellow to bits; but Jesus says, ‘As a disciple, cultivate the uncritical temper.’  In the spiritual domain, criticism is love turned sour.  In a wholesome spiritual life there is no room for criticism.  The critical faculty is an intellectual one, not a moral one.  If criticism becomes a habit it will destroy the moral energy of the life and paralyse spiritual force.  The only Person who can criticise human beings is the Holy Spirit.  No human being dare criticise another human being, because immediately he does he puts himself in a superior position to the one he cricises.  A critic must be removed from what he criticises.  Before a man can criticise a work of art or a piece of music, his information must be complete, he must stand away from what he criticises as superior to it.  No human being can ever take that attitude to another human being; if he does he puts himself in the wrong position and grieves the Holy Spirit.  A man who is continually criticised becomes good for nothin, the effect of criticism knocks all the gumption and power out of him.  Criticism is deadly in its effect because it divides a man’s powers and prevents his being a force for anything.  That is never the work of the Holy Ghost.  The Holy Ghost alone is in the true positino of a critic; He is able to show what is wrong without wounding and hurting.

The temper of mind that makes us lynx-eyed in seeing where others are wrong does not do them any good, because the effect of our criticism is to paralyse their powers, which proves that the criticism was not of the Holy Ghost; we have put ourselves into the posiition of a superior person.  Jesus says a disciple can never stand away from another life and criticise it, therefore He advocates an uncritical temper, “Judge not.” Beware of anything that puts you in the place of the superior person.

The counsel of Jesus is to abstain from judging.  This sounds strange at first because the characteristic of the Holy Spirit in a Christian is to reveal the things that are wrong, but the strangeness is only on the surface.  The Holy Spirit does reveal what is wrong in others, but His discernment is never for purposes of criticism, but for purposes of intercession.  When the Holy Spirit reveals something of the nature of sin and unbelief in another, His purpose is not to make us feel the smug satisfaction of a critical spectator, ‘Well thank God, I am not like that’; but to make us so lay hold of God for that one that od enables him to turn away from the wrong thing.  Never ask God for discernment, becuase discernment increases your responsibility terrifically; and you cannot get out of it by talking, but only by bearing up the life in intercession before God until God puts him right.  “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and He shall give him life for them that sin not unto death.” (1 John v, 16.)  Our Lord allows no room for criticism in the spiritual life, but He does allow room for discernment and discrimination.

If we let these search-lights go straight down to the root of our spiritual life we will see why Jesus says ‘Don’t judge’; we won’t have time to.  Our whole life is o be lived so in the power of God that He can pour through us the rivers of living water to others.  Some of us are so concerned about the outflow that it dries up.  We continually ask, ‘Am I of any use?’ Jesus tells us how  be of use: ‘Believe in Me, and out of you will flow rivers of living water.’

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”  If we let that maxim of our Lord’s sink into our hearts we will find how it hauls up.  “Judge not” – why, we are always at it!  The average Christian is the most penetratingly critical individual, there is nothing of the likeness of Jesus Christ about him.  A critical temper is a contradiction to all our Lord’s teaching.  Jesus says of criticism, ‘Apply it to yourself, never to anyone else.’ “Why dost thou judge thy brother? . . . for we shall all stand before the judgement seat of Christ.”  Whenever you are in a critical temper, it is impossible to enter into communion with God.  Criticism makes you hard and vindictive and cruel, and leaves you with the flattering unction that you are a superior person.  It is impossible to develop the characteristics of a saint and maintain a critical attitude.  The first thing the Holy Spirit does is to give us a spring-cleaning, and there is no possibility of pride being left in a man after that.  I never met a man I could despair of after having discerned all that lies in me apart from the grace of God.  Stop having a measuring rod for others.  Jesus says regarding judging, ‘Don’t; be uncritical in your temper, because in the spiritual domain you can accomplish nothing by criticism.’  One of the severest lessons to learn to is leave the cases we do not understand to God.  There is always one fact more in every life of which we know nothing, therefore Jesus says, ‘Judge not.’  We cannot do it once and for all, we have to remember always that this is our Lord’s rule of conduct.

Oswald Chambers

Chambers, Oswald. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. 1960 ed. London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1960. Print.
  1. tl;dr.

    • Nate Paschall
    • February 27th, 2010

    “Before a man can criticise a work of art or a piece of music, his information must be complete, he must stand away from what he criticises as superior to it.”

    Thanks for posting this brother

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