Summary: #7 in series through James
“Who died and made you Judge?” James 4:11-17
We are back in James again as we move toward the close of the book. And once again we find James discussing with the church an issue that has erupted in the Jerusalem Church. There had risen this issue of people within the church seeking to perpetuate their own standing in the church.
Some had gone so far as intentionally destroying someone else in order to gain what they thought would be control of the church. Little factions had developed and started talking behind each others backs, they had taken to half-truths and criticism to further their (NOT GOD’s) agenda.
Yet through James God was calling His church to rise above this sort of petty yet dangerous problem, to put Him back into the planning process and do what they knew was right.
This was for a very important reason… to avoid giving the church an ugly reputation among the community at large. Because very seldom will an internal disruption stay internal. Sadly for today’s church we are no less immune from this sort of thing than was the church that James was writing to so long ago.
In fact you don’t have to look very far to find where this sort of activity has seriously damaged a church. All of us have heard or seen of churches that have split over secret meetings and dangerous accusations. Where a faction of a church has gotten power hungry. Someone gave me a newspaper clipping of a church that actually split because of the church van. Rather than stopping and discussing it like Christians they chose to throw verbal stones at one another, in order to control.
When James begins in verse 11 this speaking against one another is a very serious offense. He is talking about slander, backbiting, backstabbing and evil criticism in the attempt to place undue, undeserved, unfounded, unfair judgement on a fellow Christian. He was not talking about going to that person one on one to discuss a problem… He was talking about behind the back, secretive power plays that judges peoples motives, this was about condemning judgement.
SO God’s instruction through James certainly does apply to the church today…
James condemns this sort of activity for a very serious reason…
And - James answers this problem with these facts… that –we need to remember
There is only ONE LAW - GIVER (verses 11 &12)
The second great commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” SO when you go around speaking evil or falsely accusing and judging a brother or a sister you are trying to judge what the law (the bible) says. When in fact you were only ever told to obey it yourself.
Now this is not to say that you have to hold your tongue when there is something that needs to be corrected provided that you do it lovingly, humbly and honestly at the lowest possible level.
In this you find that you are actually infringing on God’s prerogative. No human being has the right to judge another human being.
One because James says there is only one Judge and it isn’t you! And two it falls under the heading of – “there but by the grace of God go you…”
It was F. B. Meyer, who once said that when we see a brother or sister in sin, there are two things we do not know: First, we do not know how hard he or she tried not to sin. And second, we do not know the power of the forces that assailed him or her. We also do not know what we would have done in the same circumstances.
The bible doesn’t tell us this is a serious sin – it tells us that this one of the worst of all…
There is only ONE LIFE-SUSTAINER (verses 13 & 14)
In this type of instance people plan and leave God out of it. This is not to say we cannot plan but that we are to plan and yet leave the results to God. When the church makes plans absent of God you will find that the backbiting and judging one another will begin.
James uses an illustration of the Jewish merchants, of how they would make concrete plans with a concrete outcome the problem was they would leave God out of it and this alone leaves room for danger.
The thing planned isn’t necessarily wrong, but the spirit of the planning that we plan with a self-seeking, self-perpetuating agenda. But when you plan with the understanding that God is the sustainer and judge you will find real and positive results.
James goes on to say that we are not to judge because
There is only ONE LORD (verse 15)