Summary: Our job is to be concerned with where we are in our relationship with God, and let God worry about others.
Who's The Judge?
Text: James 4:11-12
1. Illustration: Whether or not to judge others is a hot topic in the Church today. Most of us would say that we are not the judge of our fellow Christians. However, is that what we are practicing? Do we pass judgment on others without even noticing it? C.S. Lewis wrote about this in Mere Christianity. He said, "One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting everyone else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons ”marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning." My friends, Scripture is clear, God is the judge and we are not!
2. It's easy to say, "I'm not judging you," but when their back is turned we judge them six ways to Sunday.
3. In our text today, James poses the question...
A. Who Are We Really Judging?
B. God Alone Is Judge
4. Let's stand together as we read James 4:11-12.
Proposition: Our job is to be concerned with where we are in our relationship with God, and let God worry about others.
Transition: First James asks the question...
I. Who Are We Really Judging? (11).
A. Criticizing And Judging God
1. In my 20 + years of ministry I cannot begin to tell you how many people who I've met who stopped going to church many years ago because of the way they were treated by church going people.
A. Some were mistreated by people in church.
B. Others we looked down upon by church people because of their past.
C. Still others were rejected because of the way they looked, the clothes they wore or who their parents were.
D. If we were to try and figure out just how many people were turned away from Christ by others in church the list would incalculable.
2. There must have been some similar reason behind what James writes in the two verses. Probably they was a particular incident, or perhaps several, that James is dealing with in this text.
3. Look at what he says in v. 11, "Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you."
A. With an abrupt shift from describing an appropriate attitude toward God, James turns to the proper relations between believers.
B. We love God by being humble before him; we love our neighbor by refusing to speak evil.
C. To speak evil can take many forms. We may speak the truth about a person and still be unkind, or we may spread gossip that others have no business knowing.
D. We may be questioning someone’s authority or nullifying their good work by backbiting. Obviously, this hurts the harmony among believers.
E. The verb is katalaleo ("speak evil"), which could include destructive verbal attacks, gossip behind another person's back and false accusations. Such offenses are not to be practiced among Christians.
F. Then James repeats this first verb in if you criticize but adds a second verb or judge each other to make clear that the speaking against is a form of judging.
G. Judging then becomes the real focus of these verses, and the remainder of the two verses is explanation of why judging is so wrong (Stulac, 152).
H. The tense in the Greek reveals that James is forbidding a practice that is already in progress. So James is dealing with a real situation here. The people were in the habit of criticizing one another.
I. This verse includes the sixth and seventh times in his letter that James has mentioned God’s law. It is the royal law—the law that frees or convicts, the law that must be kept. Here the law is under attack.
J. The specific problem being confronted violates the ninth commandment: “Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.” It also violates the more fundamental law of Christ, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). In addition...
K. Leviticus 19:16-18 (NLT)
16 “Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people. “Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the LORD.
17 “Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives. Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sin.
18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.