The Drug of Criticism, and What Every Spiritual Valley Makes You Decide...

Criticism is a drug. 
(I know because I'm a user trying to quit...)

Call it discernment, intellectual debate, observation, theological analysis even, (or just plain ole being right) but when we rely on our own perception, we tread dangerously....
I'm not proposing some empty-headed approach... to float along accepting of every little thing. Wisdom is called for. But... 
Our own understanding can get us in a world of trouble... "

Those who trust their own insight are foolish, 
but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe." 
Proverbs 28:26

"The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. 
Jeremiah 17:9 NLT 

(And note how Proverbs 3:5 sets up as opposites 'Trust in the Lord' and 'depend[ing] on your own understanding'...)

And it's sneaky, this haughty eye... 

Just when I think I have it beat, and can move on, suddenly every thought I have towards others is judgmental. ...And soon I'm ugly again.
Rotten. Joyless. 

I know what to do. But the simple task of 'taking my thoughts 
captive and making them obedient to Christ'*
is eerily similar to quitting smoking... 
(insert your own addiction here... remember how hard it was to quit?

I remember years ago, I smoked a pack daily. I managed my schedule around cigarettes. I was addicted. Once I committed to quit, I suddenly didn't know where to put my empty hands. I became acutely aware of my own breathing and the heavy ache for nicotine... 

Consciously shifting my attention from that physical need to something else was
Sometimes it was a minute-by-minute work. 

And so it is with judgment - of other people, and even of the general unfairness of this dark place. 

When I cry out to God, "Injustice!! DO something!" and ask how He can allow women and children to be raped, and permit people to be enslaved and abused and tortured... perhaps before they ever hear the  name of Jesus... when I cry out like that, I'm basically not trusting God. I'm essentially saying 'I have a better idea than the Creator of the universe'. I tremble at the thought... 

Ultimately, every spiritual valley 
brings me to the same choice: 
I must decide between trusting God more, 
or trusting Him less.
There is no third option.

May your word fill me with your true wisdom. Open my eyes to your truth Lord. Thank you for training me in trust. You are the one Sovereign Lord who sees all and allows all (yes, even these horrors mentioned) for your good purposes and for your glory. Indeed Lord, You are good and can be trusted. 'I believe Lord, help my unbelief!' *

"Oh, how great are God's riches and wisdom and knowledge!
How impossible it is for us to understand  his decisions and and his ways! For who can know the Lord's thoughts? 
Who knows enough to give him advice? 
... For everything comes from him and exists by  his power
and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever and ever."
Romans 11:33-36

"Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words? 
... Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? 
Tell me, if you know so much." 
Job 38: 2-4 (excerpts)

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take."
Proverbs 3:5,6


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