“You love them; I’ll judge them.” Isn’t that a good summary of James 4:11-12?
Our pastor is teaching through the book of James on Sunday mornings. It has been challenging and convicting, to say the least. Joyfulness amidst trials, being slow to speak and slow to anger, producing good works because of our faith, controlling the tongue, discerning wisdom and worldliness, cleansing our hearts, submitting to God and to others, resisting our own pride and humbling ourselves – just a handful of the lessons learned. And also, don’t judge each other.*
“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. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” ~ James 4:11-12
Have you seen this quote, attributed to Plato? – “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” There is much truth in that.
What are we doing when we look at a person and make assumptions? “Well, that person obviously is an idiot.” “Don’t they know better than that?” “Someone needs to teach them how to drive (or dress, or eat, or whatever).” “They sure aren’t saved (or spiritual enough, or studying their Bible, or whatever).” “They are definitely guilty (or wrong, or evil, or whatever)”. Or the ever-so-human “I just don’t like them. They are weird (or creepy, or dumb, or different, or ugly, or wrong, or whatever).” And so on, and so forth.
And guess what? We all do this. Every. Single. One. Of us. Oh, we might not say these things out loud – after all, we are Christians. But we sure as shootin’ think those thoughts. And God tells us that is just as bad.
” ‘You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.” But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire…
You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’ ” ~ Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28
Have you ever been angry with someone and thought them “empty-headed” or a “fool”? Have you ever had inappropriate thoughts about someone? Hmm, I think we are all guilty here. Time for some confession. Thank God for 1 John 1:9!
In James, we are admonished to not speak evil of another. That includes our opinions, thoughts, gossip, judgment, etc. Why? Because when we make judgments about others, we are essentially putting ourselves above the law. We are making ourselves judges, effectively saying that we are better than them. And let’s face it: “There is none righteous, no, not one.” ~ Romans 3:10
I am no better than anyone else. Ever. I am a child of God but also a wretched sinner, saved only by God’s grace – His unearned, undeserved mercy and love and forgiveness and kindness – through faith in Jesus Christ alone. I am nothing without Christ. Yet in Christ, I have everything. And in God alone, I have love.
When asked, what did Jesus say is the greatest commandment?
“Jesus said to him, ‘ “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’ ” ~ Matthew 22:37-40
Love God. Love others. All the rest of the commandments – and the entire Bible – hinge on these two simple commands.
Love God with all that you have, with all that you are: heart, soul, mind. Love others as yourself. And admit it, we all love our own selves. No matter how much we think we hate ourselves, we are constantly thinking of and looking out for our own selves. Loving and saving our own skin.
What if we spent less time thinking of our own selves, and more time seeking after God?
What if we spent less time thinking of our own selves, and more time loving others?
What if we left the judging to God and loved each other?
Check out 1 Corinthians 13 for a refresher course on what real love looks like.
” ‘By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’ ” ~ John 13:35
* Note: There is a difference between judging someone (remember, God looks at the heart, 1 Samuel 16:7) and pointing out sin. We are called to be salt and light, to stand out in a world of darkness. When confronted with the choice of calling a spade a spade, we must not keep silent. We do no favors to a dying world if we don’t show them their need for a Saviour! Godly love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:6.
Love others around you enough to show and tell them “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” ~ Micah 6:8