A Sign of a Critical Spirit and/or Legalist Mindset

by GfG on September 21, 2014 · 7 comments

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There are signs that a critical spirit and possibly a legalistic mindset is ruling a heart.  I’d like to talk about one today.

I’ve shared different aspects of my journey out of the legalistic camp and today I am hoping to open eyes and change hearts.  Yup, tall order.  I know,  Still, God did it for me and I’d rather He not have to do it for others the way He did it for me.   I share a characteristic with you today that many, many don’t realize is legalistic.

And they walk in it proudly.

And I once did.

Shudder.  Sigh.

What is this sign of a critical spirit and/or legalistic mindset? 

The refusal to compliment something unless we agree with it 100%.

The hilarious (or actually not) aspect of this character trait is that most people who are walking in it, think that they are being consistent and truth holding.

They usually aren’t though.

Usually, they taking a freedom and making it a mandate.

I will use these photos as an example.

20th Shot of the Kids WEB Watermarked AJP


122-BrouseFamily cropped WEB

I have friends and know people who will not compliment this photo of my children or the one of my family.  They refuse to do so because my daughters’ dresses are too far above the knee.

No, I’m not kidding.

Yes, I’m sure.

Sadly, I’ve been there.

See… even though there are no bottoms, bellies, breasts, or even upper thighs or chests showing and there is not clingy clothing revealing form,  these people can not say anything about this gorgeous photo of my children because they believe that there is immodesty here and they don’t want to encourage it, condone it, or partake in it.  They think they are taking a stand, via their silence.

They don’t agree with the clothing 100%, so they won’t say anything nice.

They truly won’t say, “That is a beautiful photo!”  or “You’re children look beautiful!” or “What a gorgeous family!”

{all true statements by the way, not that I am biased or anything}

It would be condoning… a mandate.  But that mandate is only in their mind.  It’s not in Scripture.

Oh, they would argue that modesty is in Scripture and I fully agree.  The problem is that when we refuse to acknowledge beauty… I would even dare say obvious beauty… because the situation defines modesty a tiny bit differently even though there is clearly a modest choice displayed, then we are choosing to make a conviction a mandate.

The reason this is a sign of a critical spirit is that a critical spirit can not compliment unless something is perfect or pretty close to it spiritually.

The reason this is a sign of a legalistic mindset is that there is nothing, nothing in this photo that goes definitively against Scripture or even clearly goes against the spirit of Scripture.

We should ask ourselves these questions to see if this is a trait of ours:

Would we be willing to financially contribute to a mission for a family we admire and like even if the family endeavoring to do it lived month to month previously?

Can we tell a lady she looks lovely, even though the tips of her hair are blue and we aren’t fans of that?

Would we tell a friend she looked beautiful when we think everything but her tiny nose ring displays beauty?

Can we speak encouraging words to a mother even though she parents in a way you think is less wise than the way we do it?

Could we compliment the talent of a musician even if they a style of music we think is less than pleasurable?


Does beauty have to be defined only in the exact way we define it for us to compliment it?

Does modesty have to be within our specific list for us to compliment on appearance?

Does wise financial behavior have to be defined in the way we define it for us to bless?

Does parenting need to look the way we do it for us to encourage it?

If we can compliment something only if we 100% agree with it, then I say we are walking in a critical spirit and/or a legalistic mindset. 

If this is a trait of yours, I challenge you to humble yourself before God.

Not this way:

And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.“The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.…

Sure we often don’t word it quite this boldly arrogant and self-righteous.  If often looks a bit more like this in our mind:

That is not the right way to do it.  {sigh} Why can’t they see the error of their way?  Should I say something to point out their error?  I would love to help and be encouraging, but I can’t and shouldn’t.  God has defined that behavior and I don’t want to encourage their steps to continue on this path.  I’m sad so many people don’t see that this is a poor choice.  I am grateful that I have this wisdom.

If only this mental conversation was about sin, I would rejoice!  I would praise God for a heart and mind that is choosing God’s call to righteousness in a world that is saturated with ungodliness.

But… this isn’t what this dialogue is about right now.  It’s about gray areas and freedoms in Christ… set to be law.

And it’s a sign of a critical spirit and legalistic mindset.

In this case, silence speaks a thousand words.  All hurtful.

Break free from that ugliness.  That hurts.  That causes pain in your brothers and sisters in Christ.  That sets you in a position you do not have a right to.

Instead, be kind and loving and willing to believe that God is in the gray.

Cant Compliment Photo PIN

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