A confession: I am a very critical person and generally have high standards for stuff (particularly in church ministry). Now, bad as that is, I am aware of it and so have compiled a little list of truths to apply to my heart. I have found these very helpful - at the very least it exposes the depths of my sin to me!
1. Criticism is rooted in pride. It must defacto assume a superior position from which to criticize.
2. Criticism is self-righteous: I use the sins and faults of individuals and groups to feel better about myself and to bolster my own sense of 'worthiness'.
3. The gospel levels the ultimate criticism against me (I am under the wrath of God) and affirms that I can only live by grace, so how can I so joyfully criticize others as if anyone can be saved without grace?!
4. Criticism uses ‘law’ and ‘demand’ on others, but how can I do this without this law and demand rebounding to condemn me?
5. Criticism destroys joy and gratitude in me; it also infects others and destroys their joy and gratitude.
6. Criticism caricatures people/groups and paints them in regard to their worst characteristic. It fails to see people as multi-dimensional. When I mess up "it's complicated... there is a context... things haven't been great recently...", when others mess up "it's because that's just who they are". I fail to see them as multi-dimensional.
7. How can I ever be in a position to properly judge someone or a group? There is much I don’t know (and can never know) about their heart, background, experiences.
8. How does Christ treat me? Not harshly... though he could devastatingly reveal my character, inability and lack of many things. But he is patient, gentle, generous, supportive. He isn't content to criticize me from heaven but came for me.