Monday, November 7, 2011
Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? James 4:11-12
James addresses Christian brothers and the way they talk to and about each other. He specifically tells them not to speak “evil of one another.” “Evil” here speaks of slander, false accusation, careless gossip, and defamation of character. This is not speaking against holding someone accountable or confronting someone over sin. That is something that is commanded in other parts of scripture. Rather, James is making sure that people who are in the church and claim the name of Christ be careful about each others’ reputation.
Since James was addressing Jewish Christians he knew that they had a tendency to like rules, and to think that problems could be solved with more rules. When people didn’t keep these extra rules (that weren’t really in the Bible) they would be criticized and gossiped about.
James goes on to explain why it’s so important not to do this. When one person holds someone else to rules that are not in the law, or falsly accuses someone of breaking God’s law, they begin to make themselves the authority over and above God’s law. In that way they “judge the law” as inadequate or they try to take the laws place. James goes on to say that since it is against God’s law to falsely accuse, defame, and gossip about others, those who do this are actually breaking the law that they think they hold up so highly.
James goes on to say in verse 12 that God is the only one who has given and kept the law, so He is the only one who can judge. When we falsely accouse, defame, or add to the law we put ourselves in a place that only God should have.
Have you talked badly about someone behind their back? Are you holding people to expectations and standards to which God wouldn’t hold them? Don’t do that! Your homework assignment today: Communicate however you need to and ask forgiveness of the person you have “spoken evil of”. Does someone tend to tell you all the bad about other people? Tell them to stop! Don’t engage in that kind of behavior. It’s not good for anyone.