When we are critical of others, we are in it for one of two reasons. We are either critical because we are loving them, and are seeking their best interest, or we are critical because we are loving ourselves, and are seeking some way to compete effectively with them. This means that our criticism is either borne from a love of God, or it is borne from a love of self.
The critical spirit bites and devours. The critical spirit tears down and does not rebuild. The critical spirit speaks without thinking or reflecting. The critical spirit does not have equal weights and measures; it does not apply the same level of scrutiny to itself as it does to the other. The critical spirit always wins the game that it is playing, and does so by pretending to the neutral referee. The critical spirit belongs in Hell, but is often found in church.
The discerning spirit wants to protect, not destroy. The discerning spirit warns; it does not push. The discerning spirit can speak hard words, and often does, but it is the scalpel of the surgeon, not the cudgel of the mugger. The discerning spirit rejoices when corrections are made, and is glad when planned corrections become unnecessary. The discerning spirit is gentle or hard, depending on the need. The discerning spirit administers faithful wounds, not misplaced bruises.
Everyone here is in relationships with others, and so that means that everyone here is either critical or discerning. It is not possible to sit this one out.