Summary: James warns against speaking evil against a brother in Christ and teaches that when one is guilty, then they also become guilty of judging the law.
1. Open your bibles to James 4:11&12.
2. In James 4:11 the command “do not speak evil of one another, brethren” is a continuation of warnings spoken of in James 4:1&2 where James warned against the “wars and fighting’s” going on among members of the church due to selfish and covetous’ desires to have more recognition than other members of the church.
3. The verbal and malicious “wars and fights” would result in brethren “speaking evil of one another”.
4. A word that summarizes James’ warning is the word “slander”. “Criticizing” unjustly!
5. Noah Webster in his 1828 edition of his dictionary, defined slander as “a false tale or report maliciously uttered, and tending to injure the reputation of another by lessening him in the esteem of his fellow citizens, by exposing him to impeachment and punishment, or by impairing his means of living.” Sarah Palin, the governor from Alaska has received a lot slander and evil remarks.
6. In Leviticus 19:16, God commands His people, “You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people.” In Ps. 15:3 we are taught that it is the mark of a godly man that “he does not slander with his tongue”.; In Ps. 50:19&20; Jer. 6:28; 9:4 and Rom. 1:30 we are taught that it is the mark of the wicked that they do slander others.
7. The seriousness of slander caused David to vow, “Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy” (Ps. 101:5). The seriousness of slander caused David to pray, “May a slanderer not be established in the earth” (Ps. 140:11).
8. In Proverbs 20:19 Solomon wisely counseled against associating with a slanderer. “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.”
9. Let’s begin a discussion of the warnings that James 4:11&12 give us.
I. FIRST, JAMES 4:11a EMPHATICALLY WARNS THAT WE SHOULD NOT SPEAK EVIL AGAINST A BROTHER IN CHRIST.
1. Let’s read James 4:11a, “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren”.
2. Turn to Acts 6:7-14. In the early part of Acts 6 Stephen and six other men received the laying on of the hands of the apostles, so that they could, among other things, through miraculous inspiration begin to teach to the Jewish people in Jerusalem. Their teaching converted many Jews.
The Jewish leaders became angered at the teaching of Stephen. They began to speak evil against Stephen and what he is teaching. This evil speaking was in the form of lies being told about what he was teaching. These Jewish leaders provide an example of those claiming to be God’s people “speaking evil” of God’s true N. T. Christians. Today many preachers and teachers of God’s word have “evil things said about them”.
Let’s read Acts 6:7-14, “7 Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
8 And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. 11 Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. 13 They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.”