Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Slaying The Nitpicker!

Dear Friends,

It was one of those humbling and embarrassing experiences. It was many decades ago that my step-daughter’s Christian elementary school called us at work. They had done a routine head check and found that she had lice. Being a do-it-yourself kind of guy, I just wanted to shave my step-daughter’s head and spray her all over with a can of Raid but her mother had a better idea... 

And that was when I found out that among the most unique jobs, there are actually professional nitpickers. Ours was a kindly older woman who was very compassionate and quickly eased our embarrassment. Special shampoos kill the lice but the nits are the tiny eggs of the lice that stick to the hair follicles. The nits have to be painstakingly picked off of each strand of hair with a special comb or they will hatch into lice and reinfect the person.

The word “nitpicker” originally meant someone who focused their attention on these tiny lice eggs, but in the late sixties, it became a slang term for someone who was overly concerned about inconsequential details. So a nitpicker is someone who criticizes other people by focusing on their tiny insignificant flaws. It’s someone who constantly carps about petty things in life and about other people. They just fuss over things to find fault with. (If it bothered you that I ended that last sentence with a preposition, you may be a grammarian nitpicker!) 

Nitpickers are the people whose sole pleasure seems to be in studying someone or something in the hope of finding a flaw. Nitpickers love to quarrel and argue just to prove they are right and the other person is wrong. Their goal is not to help or improve the other person but to make them wrong.

Nitpickers are unpleasant people to have in your life. You may have a wife, husband, daughter or son who is a nitpicker. Maybe the nitpicker in your life is your parent or boss. Or maybe the unpleasant nitpicker is the one who stares back at you in the bathroom mirror. If we are the nitpicker, we may try to spin our nitpicking into something positive. We pridefully call it our “attention to detail” and describe ourselves as a “perfectionist.” But that can be just our self-righteous way of spinning the sin of nitpicking into something that sounds respectable and praiseworthy. The word “nitpicking” is not in our Bible but grumbling, complaining and murmuring are listed as sins and nitpicking is the obsession to grumble, complain and murmur about the petty little things that others do.

What are some of the root causes of nitpicking? Our constant carping on another person can come from our unforgiveness that leads to bitterness, complaining and a hardness of heart toward another. We fall short of the grace of God when we let bitterness come between us and another person. Hebrews 12:14-15. Nitpicking comes from prideful thinking. You can only criticize another as long as you think you’re better than they are. Nitpicking can also come from a lack of spiritual maturity. When we bicker and quarrel and let loose the bitter nitpicky condemnations of others, we are behaving like those do not belong to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 3:3 NLT

The sin of nitpicking, is destructive to our walk with the Lord and destructive to our witness as a Christian. You can’t be operating in the will of God and manifesting His grace to others while you’re digging down in their lives to do petty faultfinding. Nitpickers obsessively seek to discover what is wrong with another person. In contrast, Christians have a passion to discover what is right with another person. 

Christians who manifest the grace of God, will pick through the brokenness and dysfunction in the life of another person in order to seek out the good. People of grace will always seek to buildup, edify and encourage one another.1 Thessalonians 5:11

We can’t change others, but with God we can change ourselves. If the nitpicker in your life is the one you see in your bathroom mirror, you can slay the nitpicker. We can overcome our critical spirit by firmly rebuking in the name of Jesus every time we feel that tendency coming on to engage in petty fault finding. We need to be the light in our families and in our relationships with others. 

Jesus said: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 And in order for us to be the light, we need to guard our heart and words and become the messengers of God’s grace. Amen?

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