Summary: James answers the question: Is it wrong to be critical or judgmental of other Christians if what you say is true? If so, what’s wrong with it?
James answers the question: Is it wrong to be critical or judgmental of other Christians if what you say is true? If so, what’s wrong with it?
“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 (quickview) , 12)?
A man once wrote, I overheard my mother passing along to my father a newsy tidbit, concerning a neighbor. “You know you shouldn’t repeat stories about others,” I said with mock seriousness. “That makes you a gossip.” “I’m not a gossip!” she snapped back. “I’m a news analyst.” (James J. Saunders in Reader’s Digest)
Katalaleo = “Do not speak down on one another,” or “do not speak against one another.” James is forbidding any speech (whether it is true of false) which runs down another person. Many people think it is okay to tell negative information if it is TRUE. Passing on damaging truth seems like a moral duty.
To help believers control their tongues and avoid slander, James exposes four errors of talking about people.
1. What we say about our brother demonstrates our thoughts of others.
2. What we say about our brother demonstrates our thoughts of the law.
3. What we say about our brother demonstrates our thoughts of the law giver.
4. What we say about our brother demonstrates our thoughts of ourselves.
What we say about our brother demonstrates our thoughts of others
The threefold repetition brethren. . . brother. . . brother reminds us of the family relationship we share with other Christians. Slander is the antithesis of what is expected and acceptable in a family whose members are to love, support, and protect each other. While Christians are to expect slander from outside the church, slander within the church is unacceptable. “But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another” (Gal 5:15).
Closely associated with the sin of slander is that of being judgmental. Thus, after cautioning his readers not to speak against one another, James commandingly warns the one who is judging his brother to stop. Krinô (judges) does not refer to evaluation , but to condemnation.
The first step in avoiding the sin of slander is not keeping one’s lips sealed, but in keeping one’s thoughts about others right.
We will never become a church that effectively reaches out to those who are missing out if we shoot our wounded and major on the minuses. Instead of being fishers of men, as Christ has called us, we will be keepers of an ever-shrinking aquarium. Next fall when you see geese heading south for the winter, flying along in V formation, you might be interested in knowing what science has discovered about why they fly that way. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a V formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. (Christians who share a common direction and a sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.)