Gossip Not, Judge Not
In the business world an executive knows something about everything. A technician knows everything about something. The old time switchboard operator knew everything about everything!
Gossip is a form of judging others. James 4:11-12 condemns the cutting, unkind, criticizing spirit that unceasingly finds fault with others. It destroys reputations, disrupts families, divides neighbors, and breaks hearts.
In verse 11, James addressed brothers and sisters, that is, believers. Gossiping and judging are sins Christians commit. The verb in verse 11 means “to speak against another person.” That includes slander, which is a false statement. It includes malicious speech which damages another’s reputation. That’s what the devil did to God in the Garden of Eden. Lying, as perhaps no other sin, faithfully mirrors Satan’s character.
But lying isn’t all James forbids. Another kind of speaking hits close to home. It involves speaking truth harshly with a judgmental spirit.
The way unbelievers talk influences us. Cutting down others, often in a witty way, is the polluting exhaust unbelieving minds naturally generate. It happens in the President’s cabinet. It happens at the local gasoline station. James forbids dragging such pollution into our relationships. It destroys the relational bonds that glue Christians together.
Sometimes telling the truth damages as much as lying does. Often, the Christian thing to say is nothing. Our first obligation is not to speak against fellow Christians. Our second is to turn a deaf ear to those who fail in the first obligation. When we’re growing in grace, we’re critical of ourselves. When we’re not, we’re critical of others.
Gossiping is judging both others and God’s law. What law? The law that we’re to love our neighbor as ourselves (James 2:8). You ask, “How does a gossiper judge the law?” It’s no secret few drivers abide by the posted speed limit. In effect they’re saying, “This isn’t a good law. I’m not going to obey it.” God’s law is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” When we gossip, in effect we say, “It isn’t a good law.” God’s law is no longer the authority. We are.
Judging is God’s job. When we criticize and pass judgment on fellow Christians, we’ve usurped His place of authority. Heaven has no juries. God alone can judge justly.
Judging isn’t our job. James 4:12 (NIV) says, “…But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” Before judging someone, consider how you’d like that person to judge you with your present level of knowledge of and compassion for them. We’re ill-equipped to judge others. Our knowledge is too limited. Our priorities are often questionable. Our holiness is inadequate. There are few tasks in life for which we’re so inadequately prepared as judging others. #freechristiandiscipleshipresources #freeevangelismresources #freechristianleadershipresources
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