Criticism is not one of the fruits of the Spirit. Being a critic is for people who go to movies and get paid to write things in newspapers. Being critical or judgmental of other believers is a mentality that only limits you.
There are times when we notice that something is different about others and then we can become critical of people or situations that we don’t understand. You may find yourself walking in a spirit that comes from anger, jealousy, selfishness or pride. Take the disciples, for example. “John answered, ‘Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.’” (Luke 9:49-50, ESV). When you cast that kind of judgment on people, you hurt yourself as much as them.
Well, what about being discerning? The Bible is clear about this too. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
There is a righteous judgment that we must talk about when it comes to theology, lifestyle and biblical practices. “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:6-10).
A discerning heart may have righteous anger against evil, but it’s not proud the way a critical heart is. A critical person draws attention to the darkness in order to make himself look clever or admirable. A discerning person sees something that isn’t right with God and doesn’t let that evil pass by freely.
When we want to speak out against someone or something, we should check our hearts first and see if we are being critical or discerning. Criticism is wrapped up in pride, resentment or defensiveness. Discernment is always concerned with what pleases God.