Verse 11b Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.
Yesterday we talked about the dangers of speaking ill of other believers but James is pointing out it is more than just an issue of slander. Let’s see what else he was seeing that needed to stop.
Apparently these believers weren’t just talking smack about each other. James needed them to see that this slandering of each other was actually breaking the law as Jesus had said it. He had said that we are to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and secondly that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. These two laws, as put out there for us by Christ, are the two that we break when we slander our fellow believers.
First off to judge others and talk about them is once again putting us back in the position of thinking of ourselves as God. We are taking matters into our own hands and acting as if they are our laws to defend. That is what judging others boils down to, doesn’t it? It is as if we think that the laws we hold dear are to be kept no matter what and it is up to us to make sure they are observed.
Secondly while it is loving to hold our brothers and sisters accountable to the law, judging and browbeating them is not the way to go about it. Paul made the point to the Ephesians that it is important to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Notice that it is speaking ‘truth in love’ not my opinion or even my interpretation of the law. But it also doesn’t give sin a free pass saying we are never to say anything. That wouldn’t be loving to the person, the Church, nor to God.
There is a lot of talk in the modern church and world regarding being judgmental. Verses are taken out of context because we don’t like the idea that someone feels they can examine our lives. But Jesus laid out some guidelines and the main point He made was that we are not to be pointing out another’s sins if we are not addressing the sins in our own life. This is where the truth of James message comes full circle. What James understood was that self-examination leads to addressing sin in our lives and then as a Church we will not just want our sin cleansed so as to reflect Christ but the sins of our spiritual siblings as well. But this MUST be done with the understanding that God alone is the Judge. We are not to step into His shoes. We need to lovingly guide each other along but not act like we are the ones to make that happen. To keep God’s law, we are not to step in as judge.
Making It Personal
Do you find yourself judging others in the Church? How often do you judge others? Do you see yourself as better than others?
Making It Personal Kids
What does it mean to judge someone? Is it your place to say that someone is a sinner? Who has the right to say someone is a sinner?
Father, we confess the ways we have damaged Your bride, the Church, by speaking against each other. Convict us so that we can change to be the people You have called us to be. In Jesus’ name, amen.