Yesterday, James told us not to speak evil against others – not to set ourselves up as judges…
There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbour? (James 4:12)
There is a big difference between confronting sin in a person and judging the person. God’s people often go to one of two extremes in this regard. Some Christians say nothing when their brother or sister falls into sin because they think, I shouldn’t judge. On the other hand, some Christians meddle in every aspect of other people’s lives.
There is a time and place to confront blatant sin. Jesus gave us instructions for church discipline in Matthew 18:15-20. At the end of his letter, James will encourage us to restore a wayward Christian (James 5:19-20). But in 4:11-12, I believe James is talking about meddling, criticizing, and judging people’s motives. He is essentially saying:
Don’t talk bad about your fellow Christians. When you judge them, you are breaking God’s law. The law says that you should love them as you love yourself. When you judge them, you are saying the law does not apply to you. You’re putting yourself above the law, but there’s only one Person higher than the law, and that is God! So when you judge another Christian, you are putting yourself in the place of God.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3 NIV)
You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat… So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. (Romans 14:10, 12 NIV)
Suppose there is something that bothers you about another Christian, and you are trying to decide if you should confront them or not. Here is how you should decide: If they are blatantly sinning, gently show them the Scripture that says they are doing wrong. But if you can’t back up your complaint with Scripture, it is best to keep quiet.
We each have enough to worry about keeping our own lives on track. We have no right to meddle in how other people live their lives. It is none of our business how other people handle their careers, spend their money, wear their hair, or keep their yard. Just because people do things differently than we do doesn’t make their ways wrong. Other people will give an account to God for their lives, and we will give an account to God for our lives.
The next time you’re about to judge another Christian, remember that you’re not God!
Today’s Good News is that God is the perfect Judge, and He does not need our help in making judgments.
Now, go share the Good News…
FAITH in ACTION!
If you are joining us part way through this Journey in James, you can access the devotionals you have missed in the archives. (The series started on June 1.)
If this is your first visit to this website, please read the “Featured Post” from March 1, 2018.