How to be Less Critical of Yourself and Others


When Samuel went to find a new king for Israel like God asked, Samuel was sure one of the eldest brothers would be anointed.  God had other plans: “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7, NRSV).


007-david-goliathGod chose David to be king, the youngest of the sons, something that would likely be frowned upon in those days because the eldest was favored.  David was chosen by Saul, the current king, to ease his torment and defeated Goliath in battle without a sword when all others were afraid.  These events made David well liked by the people, but not his brothers who were jealous.  The eldest, Eliab, was critical of him: “With whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil in your heart; for david and goliath cartoonyou have come down just to see the battle” (1 Sam. 17:28, NRSV).  Eliab treated his brother condescendingly, not believing David was mature, that of course the youngest would recklessly abandon his responsibilities and only be interested in watching the battle.  Even Saul, who loved David, did not believe in his skills and said that he was too young to fight Goliath.



Yet David did not let that criticism harm him.  He trusted in God and had confidence in his abilities: “Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God” (1 Sam. 17:36, NRSV).  David defended God’s honor.


How many times have we been critical like Eliab or Saul?  How many times have we had moments of jealousy, condescension, and doubt? 

Recently I went to a play put on by locals.  I thought, ‘Oh it’s just locals the acting and singing won’t be good. I don’t know if I want to go.’  Yet I did go and I was impressed with the singing and acting, even the actors timed the comedic parts well.  It was a humbling experience to realize I doubted them and was critical; I was wrong.

How many times have we doubted ourselves and our own abilities? 

 When we are critical of ourselves and others we step back from God and harbor negative feelings.  It’s better to replace those feelings with compassion and understanding.  Only then will we have peace in our hearts. 

When we’re critical or doubtful of others we should consider…

  • God has a purpose for this person and I do not know what that is.
  • God may have this person in my life for a reason.  It could be to uplift me or humble me.
  • Am I looking at the outside appearance of the person or have I tried to look at the heart?
  • God used someone people would least expect for a grand purpose, who am I to assume the person in front of me has any less of a grand purpose?
  • People doubted David but David trusted in God.  Am I doubting this person’s abilities or am I trusting in God’s purpose?  Have I given this person a chance?
  • If I am jealous of another person’s purpose and wishing it was my own, have I stopped to pray and consider what God’s purpose is for my life?
  • If I am jealous of another person have said a prayer for them and asked for guidance to know the next steps to follow a similar path?

May you find joy and peace with yourself and those around you.

Photos courtesy of and by Martin Young of

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