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Do Not Speak Against One Another


James 4:11-12

Here in James 4, the “bride of Christ” is in a bitter brawl.

So, here you have the church in this bitter fight…and in verse 11 James mentions the primary weapon used in the fighting. James says: “Do not speak against one another, brethren…”

And they aren’t using sticks…or rocks…or boards…or knives…to beat each other with.

The tongue is so convenient to use.

And what is said is not always easily traced back to the originating source.

And as far as effectiveness is concerned, a rock or a stick will cut the skin or break a bone…

In their fighting, these brethren were using the most formidable weapon of all.

And “one another” is an “allelone” phrase which means it was going back and forth.

And notice, James equates their “speaking against one another with judging one another.”

Christ in Matthew 7: 20 says that we can tell a lot about a person “by the fruit he bears.”

But when James speaks of “judging” here he is talking about forming and expressing opinions and criticisms based on supposition, and prejudices.

And so James tells them to stop! “Do not speak against one another!”

But I want you to notice why James tells them to stop.

And that is the lesson for us.

Look what he says you do when you speak against a brother or sister. Look at verse 11 again. He says:

 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother, or judges his brother, speaks against the law, and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge {of it.}

 What does he mean here when he says that “you judge the law when you speak evil of a brother?”

 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law, according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin {and} are convicted by the law as transgressors.

 Now, if you will check verse 8 you will find that what James says here comes from Leviticus 19:18.

When you do this you are saying, “I know what the law is but it’s not that important.”

In Texas, it is illegal to exceed the speed limit.

In Texas, it is illegal to cross the double yellow line on the highway.

You see, our actions demonstrate what we think about a law.

And thus, notice the end of verse 11: “…if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge of it.”

So the first thing you do is you judge the law.

But now, notice the second thing you do when you speak against a brother or sister in Christ. Look at verse 12: There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy.”

 When you judge the law…you also judge the Lawgiver.

Look at this in Matthew 15: 1-14…and notice how God feels about judging Him and His word as unworthy.

 1 Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem, saying, 2 “Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”

3  And He answered and said to them, “And why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 “For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 5 “But you say, ‘Whoever shall say to {his} father or mother, “Anything of mine you might have been helped by has been given {to God,} 6 he is not to honor his father or his mother.’

 Now, notice the end of verse 6:  And {thus} you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

 By their actions they were saying, “the word of God is not right…it is not valid.”

And because they do, look what God calls them.

“You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, 8 ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. 9 ‘But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.'”

And notice verses 10-14: And after He called the multitude to Him, He said to them, “Hear, and understand. 11 “Not what enters into the mouth defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man.” 12 Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?”

13 But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be rooted up. 14            “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”

 Brethren, we must be careful about judging the law…because when we do…we judge the Lawgiver….the One who is able to save and to destroy…with the emphasis on “destroy.”

Now, go back to James 4 and notice the end of verse 12. Notice the third thing we do when we speak evil against a brother. James says: But who are you who judge your neighbor?

Listen, when it comes to passing judgment on others…that is God’s business…and we better be careful about exalting ourselves up to or above Him.

Let me show you someone who did that. Look at Isaiah 14:12-14 with me.

 12 “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! 13 “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. 14    ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’

 Who is Isaiah talking about here? Well, look at verse 4.

4          that you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon,

 And look at the consequences of exalting yourself above God: Vs. 4  “How the oppressor has ceased, {And how} fury has ceased! 5 “The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of rulers  6 Which used to strike the peoples in fury with unceasing strokes, which subdued the nations in anger with unrestrained persecution. 7 “The whole earth is at rest {and} is quiet; they break forth into shouts of joy. 8           “Even the cypress trees rejoice over you, {and} the cedars of Lebanon, {saying,} ‘Since you were laid low, no {tree} cutter comes up against us.’ 9 “Sheol from beneath is excited over you to meet you when you come; it arouses for you the spirits of the dead, all the leaders of the earth; it raises all the kings of the nations from their thrones. 10 “They will all respond and say to you, ‘Even you have been made weak as we, you have become like us. 11            ‘Your pomp {and} the music of your harps have been brought down to Sheol; Maggots are spread out {as your bed} beneath you, and worms are your covering.’

 When we start usurping God….placing ourselves on His level…we are playing dangerously.

So, let me close with this. It is called “Death or Life in Words.”

“A careless word may kindle strife, A cruel word may wreck a life;

A bitter word may hate instill; A brutal word may smite and kill;

A gracious word may smooth the way, A joyous word may light the day;

A timely word may lesson stress, A loving word may heal and bless.”

I think God is basically saying, “If you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all.”