Summary: 1. When speaking of fellow believers, seek to edify and not to judge. 2. When making plans acknowledge that God alone is in control.
James 4:11–17 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, He who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? 13Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—14yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. (ESV)
I. God alone is the Judge. v 11–12
A. We are not to “judge” other believers.
1. Literally “Do not speak evil” or do not “slander.” v 11
2. We are not to assume wrong motives of believers.
Does this mean we cannot judge (or discern) others actions?
3. We are not to judge what’s in the heart (because we cannot).
1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
4. We are not to judge self-righteously.
Matt 7:1-6 Judge not, that you be not judged. 2For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, & with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but don’t notice the log that is in your own eye? 4how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
John 7:24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.
5. We are permitted to judge (evaluate) actions.
Matthew 18:15–17 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
B. God Judges perfectly v 12
1. Only God knows our hearts.
Psalm 44:21 would not God discover this? For He knows the secrets of the heart.
2. God will judge according to His perfection.
Psalm 96:13b For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness.
3. God will judge all people.
Hebrews 12:23 to the assembly of the firstborn whose names have been written in heaven, to God who is the Judge of all, to the spirits of righteous people made perfect,
Some think they are safe because “only God can judge me.” Apart from Christ, we will TREMBLE before Him.
II. God alone is in control v 13–17
A. We are not in control.
Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
B. God is in control of even the smallest things.
In 1 Kings 22 God predicts King Ahab would be killed in battle, so King Ahab dressed up like a common soldier and dressed someone else like the King. “but a certain man drew his bow at random…” 1 Kings 22:34
C. We must acknowledge God’s sovereignty (control) in our lives.
1. Submit our plans to God.
2. Acknowledge God’s plan is ultimate.
James concludes with vs 17 “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
1. When speaking of fellow believers, seek to edify and not to judge.
2. When making plans acknowledge that God alone is in control.
3. Do the right thing.