Judging Others
(James 4: 11 - 17)

 

11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 

12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? 

13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; 

14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 

15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." 

16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 

17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.

We saw when we were studying chapter 2 of James that he talked about “the Royal Law”. James 2:8 "If you really fulfill the royal law, according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourselves,’ you are doing well".

We also read in scripture of the two great commandments, quoted by Jesus Himself.

Matthew 22:35 – 40 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

If we are breaking the Royal Law, then we cannot be loving our neighbour, for if we kept the Royal Law, we would not speak evil of our brother.

We may not consider our actions as evil, yet this is how James explains it. So, what does it mean, speaking evil?
There are quite a few things that would come under this heading.
Slander, gossip, rumours, tale bearing, lying, reviling and backbiting, these are just a few examples of speaking evil.

We saw earlier in the letter of James, that speech is one of the most difficult aspects of life to control. The tongue is compared to a bit in the horses mouth. Or the rudder that guides a great ship. A very small member but can cause great harm and calamity.

James 3:2 - If we can control our speech, we can control all areas of our lives.

Titus 3:1,2 - Christians are told to "speak evil of no one."

1 Peter 2:1 - "Lay aside ... all evil speaking."

Ephesians 4:29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
 

V11, He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother,


Every time we break a law, then we are implying that we do not believe this is a good law for us to be under. Or we know that it is a good law but we are breaking it anyway.
Rather than seeing that this is God’s law and doing it, we sit in judgment as we decide if we are going to keep God’s law. There is only one lawgiver and judge. That person is not you and it is not me. That person is God. He is the only one who gives law and He is the only one who can stand in judgment of the law.
Only He who is perfect can judge the imperfect.


Matthew 5:48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 7:1-3 Judge not, that you be not judged. 
2 For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. 
3 And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?


Look at the end of verse 12, There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? 

What right have we to judge someone else and with what standard are we judging?
Are we judging by a perfect standard? If so all will fall below that standard. Even ourselves.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,


However, if we judge by our standard, we will very likely find that the other person is better than we.
What makes us think that we are so superior, that we can even consider judging someone else.

We find it so easy to criticize others, maybe because they are not doing something the way we would.
We set ourselves up as judge. This is against God’s law.

Do we think we are really in control?

 

13 Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; 

14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.
 

This is how arrogant we can be. We think we are in control of our own lives. We say, “I will build bigger barns”.

15 And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”

16 Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. 
17 And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ 
18 So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.

19 And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”  20 But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’
 

We make all of these grand plans about how our lives are going to go and we have no idea what lies ahead of us.
We should really stop acting like we have any control! 
“God is sovereign”, we say, yet how easily we forget this truth.
How many times have our plans been thwarted, by unforeseen circumstances? Things happened that were beyond our control.
"Nothing went according to schedule." This truth is exhibited nearly every day. Yet we continue to act like we are in charge and that we have control. How arrogant we are.

 

Verse 14 puts this in its correct context: 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 
 

We sail along as though everything is in hand, “nothings gonna stop us, nothing’s gonna stop us now”.

This brought to mind, the experience that happened in my family.


Saturday morning, we were waiting for the wonderful news that we had a brand new son, grandson, great grandson and nephew and cousin.
What a happy event it was going to be, all the things we had bought, all the things we were going to do. All our future plans. Everything had gone smoothly, there had been no problems. Then came the dreaded phone call, the child had died. The little boy had lived for a very short time.
Everything changed, all the happiness turned to sadness, all the future with him disappeared, in a moment, it was all gone.

"It is even a vapour that appears for a little time and then vanishes away". 
 

None of us had any control. WE could not change things, we could not bring him back.

This is not unique to any one of us, we all experience those things that we have no control over.
We must live our lives with this truth in the back of our minds. You can find out tomorrow that you have a horrible disease. Your life can change without any warning. "Your life is a mist". Take nothing for granted. Do not assume you have tomorrow. Do not think that tomorrow will be like today. Take advantage of today. Do not be proud in your plans. Do not be proud of your life. Everything can change tomorrow.

 

Verse 15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." 

God is Sovereign and He is in complete control. Our thoughts are not His thoughts and His ways are not our ways.

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
 

God is working out His purposes and nothing that we can do can thwart them.

Fatalism, you say. No, it is Providence, a loving God working out His purposes.

Quote: C.H. Spurgeon (God's Providence)

What is fate? Fate is this—Whatever is, must be. But there is a difference between that and Providence. Providence says, Whatever God ordains must be; but the wisdom of God never ordains any thing without a purpose. Everything in this world is working for some one great end. Fate does not say that. Fate simply says that the thing must be; Providence says, God moves the wheels along, and there they are. If any thing would go wrong, God puts it right; and if there is anything that would move awry, he puts his hand and alters it. It comes to the same thing; but there is a difference as to the object. There is all the difference between fate and Providence that there is between a man with good eyes and a blind man. Fate is a blind thing; it is the avalanche crushing the village down below and destroying thousands. Providence is not an avalanche; it is a rolling river, rippling at the first like a rill down the sides of the mountain, followed by minor streams, till it rolls in the broad ocean of everlasting love, working for the good of the human race. The doctrine of Providence is not, that what is, must be; but that, what is, works together for the good of our race, and especially for the good of the chosen people of God. The wheels are full of eyes; not blind wheels.  
 

We read in the book of Job, speaking about the Sovereignty of God.

Job 42:2 “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.

Yet we boast in our arrogance.
 

Just as James reminds us:
James 4:16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 
 

We our proud of our plans. We are living in complete arrogance as we boast about what we are doing.
When, what we should be saying is, “If the Lord wills”.

J
ames 4:15 Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." 


Often we hear this said, I will do this, “the Lord willing”, without even thinking about what the Lords will is for us.
Maybe what we mean is, My will be done, if the Lord is willing.
When we should really be saying, as Christ Himself said,
“Not my will but thine be done”.
 

James 4:17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
 

It is sin to doubt whether a thing be right, and yet do it. It is also sin to know that a thing is right, and yet to leave it undone"
 

Romans 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.
 

There is an old adage: “If in doubt, don’t”.

Yet very often, even when we doubt we still go ahead.

 

Where do we stand with God?

Are we living in arrogance thinking that there will not be a judgment? Are we living as if we are in control? Are we living as if we have years and years and those days will be just like today?

We know this isn’t true. We know that life never goes according to our plan. There is only one certainty in life and that is God. God is the same, yesterday, today and forever. God does not change. He is the same yesterday as he is today.

We need to put our trust in God who holds all things in his hands. Put our trust in him who made us and gave us life. Rely on him and not ourselves.  Love one another today. Live for God today.

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