Last week I preached a sermon called Worldliness / Godliness. We originally divided the passage to include James 4:4-12, but as I was preparing the message I felt like v. 11-12 were on a different topic than the rest of the passage, so I left it out of the sermon. But I think that the message of James 4:11-12 is an important one in our church, so I wanted to make sure that we address it in the pastoral reflection this week. James 4:11-12 says this:
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?
So this passage teaches us not to judge our neighbors or to speak evil against them. Which is an important truth. We cannot see ourselves as judge over our neighbors and friends. God alone is judge.
But at the same time, I think that there is a difference between judging others and correcting others in love. The command to refrain from judging others does not mean that no one else in the body of Christ has the authority to speak into your life. In fact, just a chapter later, James tells us to correct our brothers and sisters who wander from the truth of the gospel. James 5:19-20 says this,
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
In light of these two passages, I have two things for you to consider:
1) Do you too quickly judge the intentions of others in a harsh or condemning way? Do you like to pretend that you are God and that you always know the intentions of others? If so, realize that you're judging others in a way that is inappropriate. The default of our hearts should be to give our brothers and sisters the benefit of the doubt in their motivations.
2) Is there someone in your life who you have let drift away because of your unwillingness to speak truth into their individualistic life? Do you fear their opinion of them more than you fear God and what may happen to them if they continue to drift from Him? If there are people in your life who claim to know Christ and are clearly drifting from God, consider soft words of confrontation so that you may restore them. We'll cover this in more detail in a few weeks.
- Pastor Fletcher