Speak No Evil: James 4: 11-17


Do not speak evil of one another, brothers. Whoever speaks evil of a brother or judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver and Judge who is able to save or to destroy. Who then are you to judge your neighbor? Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit”- you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead you should say, “If the Lord wills it, we shall live to this or that.” But now you are boasting in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is sin. 

Maybe James put these two sections together for the same reason I chose to (although I’m not sure I’m infallibly inspired). Since there seems to be a paragraph break between verses twelve and thirteen (though in Greek writings, there were no such thing) it would be very easy to separate these thoughts, but I found that verse 16 tied them together beautifully, All such boasting is evil.

Let’s look at the content of verses eleven and twelve,  Whoever speaks evil of a brother or judges his brother, is equivalent of one who speaks evil of the law and judges the law. If you will remember back in chapter one of our study “Doers and Not Hearers Only” we saw that the “perfect law applies to the Mosaic law as described in the Old Testament. The law of freedom refers to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. James combines these two titles to show we have fulfillment of the Mosiaic law in Christ”. If we speak evil or judge our brother, we are setting ourselves above the law as a judge. James quickly reminds us that that there is only one Lawgiver and Judge who is able to save or to destroy. However, this is not a call to dismiss or not to confront sin within the faith community, but against passing judgement in a spirit of arrogance, forgetful of our own sin.

The contents of verses thirteen through seventeen also warn us against arrogance, thus tying these two thoughts together.

Does the “plan” of my life correspond with God’s “will” for my life? If my plans override God’s will, that my friends is arrogance. If I’m telling Him that I know what’s best for me in my life, I set myself up as the “god” of my life. Making plans or even making a profit isn’t sinful. It’s the attitude which you have that makes the act sinful.

So whether we  speak evil of one another, speak evil of the law and judge the law, are not a doer of the law but a judge, or as acting as the “god” of our own life; it is boasting it is arrogance it is evil

So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is sin. 

 So this week, let us cease our boasting, arrogance and the evil judgement of our “brothers” because we’ve now been reminded……it is sin.

Amen.

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