This next part of James is probably an issue that James really wrestled with himself. Perhaps because James, as one of Jesus “earthly” brothers, didn’t come to faith in Christ until after Jesus’ resurrection! James was very critical of Jesus prior to his conversion. James was also one of the first to see the resurrected Jesus. So James most likely had to deal with this one sin more than any other- one we probably deal with most of the time as well!
It can be a subtle sin. Yet Jesus himself confronted this sin more severely, more often, and more directly, than any other! This sin is the most justified in our culture today. You can find this sin among every type of person and in every culture! And we have to deal with this sin more often than any other!
The Sin of Self-Righteousness! Evidenced by judging others, finding fault, criticizing, jumping to conclusions, acting as though I’m better than others!
James 4:11-12 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
Did you know I am playing God when I judge others? That’s not my job! God alone is Judge. He alone has the right to judge. My job is to NOT JUDGE!
WHY DO WE JUDGE OTHERS?
I find fault with others (judge) to excuse my own faults! Rom. 2:3 Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things?
I can ACCUSE others so I can EXCUSE myself! This is not only unrealistic, this is hypocrisy. You see, judging others suggests they are sinners and I am not. They’re guilty, but I’m innocent. Why else would want to even judge others?
Judging others is really PRIDE PROBLEM! And the worst kind of pride is RELIGIOUS PRIDE! Essentially, “I’m more right than you!” So, we excuse our own sin while accusing others of theirs!
I can EXCUSE my sin by RE-LABELING them! If I Gossip I’m just Concerned. If I’m Critical I’m just Discerning. If I’m Negative I’m just Realistic. If I’m Unloving I’m just Honest.
I can conveniently FORGET my sin, not because I have a CLEAR CONSCIOUS, but because I have a POOR MEMORY!
I can JUDGE OTHERS as a means of COVERING UP my own sin! Paul says, “I won’t escape judgment, nor will does point out other people’s sin put me in a privileged position!” As a matter of fact, it puts me in a worse position- “the manner in which I judge it will be judged of me!”
I point out the sins of others (judge) because it appeals to my pride!
SLANDER SEDUCES us! We want the scoop! Raking people through the muck and more makes money- just look at the best-selling tabloids!
Prov. 26:22 (GN) “Gossip is so tasty! How we love to swallow it!”
It appeals to our need to feel better about ourselves and again, the primary means of doing this is to tell a story about someone else that slanders them. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. It makes us feel important, better about ourselves, and it appeals to our pride!
SO, WHY SHOULD WE NOT JUDGE OTHERS?
Condemning (judging) others is not Christ-like! John 3:17 “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him!” John 12:47 “I have come to save the world and not to judge it.” James says, “Brothers and sisters, do not slander… anyone who speaks against a brother or sister…”
James had criticized and condemned Jesus prior to his resurrection and coming to faith. This touches home with James. And he implores us as “Christians- Christ Followers” to not be guilty of judging and condemning one another!
Did you know? The word “devil” comes from the Greek word, diabaloo”- which means “false accuser, slanderer!” The Devil’s #1 activity is to slander, accuse, and malign!
Rev. 12:10 calls Satan the “accuser of our brothers and sisters.” John 8:44 “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
I can be MOST LIKE THE DEVIL when I SLANDER OTHERS! We are doing the devil’s work when we gossip! Condemning others and NOT like Christ…
Looking down (judging) on others is not loving!
James says, “Anyone who judges… speaks against the law…” James 2:8 “Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Every word, every principle, every “law” found in the Bible are ALL FOUNDED on the believer’s ultimate endeavor: “To love God with everything and to love others as yourself!” Mt. 22:37-40 (v.40- “The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”)
Paul writes in 1 Cor. 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Loving God with everything and loving others as myself keeps me from looking down on others!
Judging others is God’s job!
James says, “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”
LAWGIVER is used only 6 times in the OT and only 1 time in the NT and every time it refers to GOD! He is the one who makes the rules; therefore he is the only one who has the right to enforce them.
Too often in our CHURCHES we tend to CONDEMN someone completely based on one small ACTION we disapprove of! It usually comes down to something they do that we don’t do OR from a religious context, something we do that they don’t do!
Jesus said, “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?” Mt. 7:3-4
Jesus is telling us we have a big enough job keeping specks and logs out of our own eye- sin, let alone making it our job to point out the specks/logs in other people’s lives!
I tend to JUDGE in others what I DISLIKE in myself! Do you notice how much we react to our own weaknesses that we see in others?? Just listen to what people seem to always point out in others- many times they’re telling on themselves!
I’m THANKFUL it’s not MY JOB TO JUDGE YOU or YOUR JOB TO JUDGE ME! I’m thankful JESUS is the JUDGE!
John 5:22 “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son…”
Isn’t much better of all of us when we JUST LET JESUS BE THE JUDGE??
HOW TO NOT MAKE IT OUR JOB TO JUDGE OTHERS!
Remember I’ll be judged by how I judge others! Mt. 7:1-2 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.”
I really set myself up for failure or success by how I treat others! That’s why back in Pt. 2 James tells us that the wisest thing we can do is to treat others well because it’s reciprocal! I’ll be judged by how I judge others! So, it’s better that I leave that job to Jesus!
Remember each of us is accountable to God! Rom. 14:12-13 “Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. 13 So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.”
I’m going to stand before God ALONE and without any justification outside of the blood of Jesus Christ! It will be me and God. And I’ll have no excuse, nor can I use someone else as an excuse for not doing the right thing. Because really- I don’t want God to compare my life to someone else’s! Yes, there will always be someone seemingly “more sinful” than me… but there will always be someone seemingly for “more spiritually sound” than me!
Remember just how merciful God has been to me! James 2:13 “There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.”
Eph. 2:4-8 “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
Mercy looks like this… The story of the adulterous women who was brought to Jesus by the “teachers of the law” really puts James appeal to not judge into perspective. You can read it later in John 8:1-11.
The life lesson?? Only those without sin are qualified to judge the sins of others!
The woman knew she was guilty. The “teachers of the law” realized they were caught to! They could not condemn the woman since they too had to admit their was sinfulness in their own lives…
That left Jesus… He alone is justified to judge. He alone is without sin. He alone gave himself as the sacrifice for all our sins. He alone is our Savior and Salvation!
“Neither do I condemn you… go and leave your life of sin!”
If we’re honest… WE ALL NEED THOSE WORDS SPOKEN TO US!
And that’s why… we need it to be Jesus’, not our job to judge!