11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11-12 ESV)
We are at risk of thinking less of the destructive sin and practice of slamming people—slandering, backbiting, gossiping, belittling, defaming, and the like.
Jabs, cynicism, and put-downs are common vernacular in the U.S. This is evident in politics, on social media, and in humor. The Book of James helps us to understand the severity and sinfulness of speaking evil against people.
Our mouths expose our hearts. Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).
You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:16 ESV)
A worthless man plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire. (Proverbs 16:27 ESV)
31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 ESV)
God’s Command: Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. (James 4:11)
James’ mandate is clear. Don’t talk down to one another or against one another. (This is not a directive against biblical rebuke.) It is a directive to not unlovingly talk about or speak down to people, specifically fellow Christians.
Within our relationships at MeadowBrook, we should expect love, edification, restoration, and grace.
- Love – Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8 ESV)
- Edification – Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV)
- Restoration - Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness…. (Galatians 6:1 ESV) Jesus outlined restoration in Matthew 18:15-20.
- Grace – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)
Quarreling and fighting and backbiting will fracture us and bring reproach on the name of the Lord and his church.
Since our words are expressions of our hearts, let’s focus on building truth in us.
View other Christians as family. 11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother…. (James 4:11)
We expect persecution, slander, shunning, and being made fun of by people outside the church, but church-life is the antidote for living in a hostile world. That is why it is so damaging when we turn on one another.
If we fail to see God’s provision for the family of MeadowBrook, and we fail to view each other as brothers and sisters, then it will be evident in the way we speak to one another and about one another. If you go snapping at one another and tearing one another to pieces, take care: you will be eaten up by one another. (Galatians 5:15 NJB)
Understand the law of God. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. (James 4:11)
Love is at the center of God’s law. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15 ESV). When we fail to love God or love others, we fail to keep God’s law. (Matthew 22:36-40)
Judging the law:
Embrace the supremacy of God. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy…. (James 4:12)
The law is God’s to give, and the judgment is his to make. We must not attempt to usurp his supreme position by judging other people.
Consider your position among others. “Who are you to judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12 ESV)
This question forces us to consider our humble position before God and others.
An in-depth study of the book of James.