“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
The book of James is always so convicting in the area of the usage of the tongue! I find its message to be so helpful in preventing me from doing harm to others, especially in the form of critical speech and slander.
Why is it that harsh words are usually spoken in the absence of the subject being victimized? When we speak ill of someone else, what is it accomplishing? I suppose it may prove a point to someone; but in the long run, doesn’t the motive behind what has been said, identify with a false, pride-hidden agenda intended to tear down and NOT build up? Wouldn’t silence be a better response instead of stirring up a mixed reaction of shock, hurt and confusion? Most of all, how does it reflect the love of the Christ who dwells within us?
In this particular passage, I think James is strongly addressing the action of exalting self at the expense of putting down another. This elevates the perpetrator to a “judge” status–after all, that’s the role assigned for such behavior, isn’t it? Are any of us qualified for that position, save the ONE lawgiver?
The People’s New Testament Commentary makes an additional point when analyzing this topic: “But when a man sets himself up as a judge of the law he is no longer an humble and faithful doer of the law.” Our condescending attitude has also disqualified us as humble servants following Christ’s example.
Have you ever been hurt by the words of a friend or someone whose opinion once mattered? Try not to focus on what was said, and realize that the struggle they are dealing with is a deep-rooted issue requiring much prayer and self-control. If you are not able to discuss the matter directly with them, commit it to prayer and share it with the Lord-He can sympathize with your pain. And He alone can do the judging as the true law-giver!