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. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
Here is a thought from James that would be good to remember for ourselves, but also to share with our sons and daughters.
What happens when we speak evil of other people? James says that we have moved from a follower of the law to the judge of it. When we are speaking evil of others we have made ourselves the standard, the judge, jury and executioner.
James reminds us that there is One Judge. That One Judge is able to save. He is able to save the person about whom we are speaking evil. It’s a reminder of God’s heart for the salvation of others. When we are talking evil of others, we need to be reminded that God wants all to be saved, even those we are gossiping about. Not only is God able to save, but He is also able to destroy. Remember the piercing words of Jesus, that for every idle word we speak, we will give account of those words in Judgment (Matthew 12:36-37).
Considering there is only One Judge, James follows with the question, “But who are you to judge your neighbor?” Who are you? Whom am I? Doesn’t that really put us in our place? Remember the words of Joseph when his brothers were so afraid that Joseph would bring vengeance down on them? Joseph asked, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 50:19).
Let’s pray for God to help us hold our tongue, but also to transform our thinking. May we hold this dear in our hearts that God is on the throne and He is the only Judge. When we are speaking evil of others, we have effectively kicked God off the throne of our hearts.