Unity of the believers, unity of the church is what sets us apart from the world. The way we treat one another is what people see when they look at us. Infighting, and bickering are bad enough. It makes us look petty and gives the world a reason to call us phonies and haters. But to speak badly about one another is even worse. To judge one another based on our own pride rather than Jesus’ love and mercy is worldly. Verses 11-12 read,
“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.12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”
When we say evil things about our fellow believers or judge them, are we loving them the way we love ourselves? When we consider ourselves, we give defenses, reasons, and explanations for our slip ups. I didn’t sleep well. I was hungry. My childhood was difficult. Whatever it is, we realize we have reasons that we fell short of perfection. If we love our brother as we love ourselves, can’t we consider that he may have issues as well that make perfection difficult? Rather than cut him down, perhaps we should help build him up. James also includes our neighbor. We have no right whatsoever to judge the lost on this earth. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 read,
“For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”
The judging believers do with one another is not judgment based on conceit but a way of helping one another to stay the course. It is exhortation, edification, and walking together, bearing one another’s burdens. We have to judge one another to some degree if we are to do that, but it is in love not pride. It is to help, not harm. It is not accusatory but allows the Spirit to reveal.
We have a judge. He is the one who made the law. Jesus is our Judge. God made the law. Jesus gave us the law of liberty. We are not here to judge whether Susie Q is keeping the law. We are here to fulfil the law of Christ. If we are judging one another we are not being a doer of the law. In other words, we are not loving one another as Jesus loved us. We are not loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Pride is what causes us to judge each other, pride at what good Christians we are, or how much God uses us, or all the things we have done. We have no reason to be prideful. It is Jesus who made us righteous. It is the Spirit who enables us to do anything at all for God, including believe. It is the Father who allows us to know Him and draws us near to Him. We are no better than any other person in the church. We are no better than any other person full stop.
Our boasting about all the great deeds we will do in our lives, or all the mighty things we have done for God shows our pride and creates bitterness. That bragging exalts us, not Christ. Our crowing doesn’t allow us to submit to our brothers and sisters in love. It harms the church, it harms us. Can we really take credit for anything good in our lives? Isn’t it God who blesses us, provides for us, and gives us every good gift? Is our arrogance or self-glorification edifying anyone else? Is it helpful to a single other person? Verses 13-16 say,
“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
Remember who is God and who the person is who needs Him. Remember without God, you have no righteousness. Without God you have nothing. He is Sovereign, Mighty, Redeemer, All Powerful, and He is the LORD. He gave you redemption, wisdom, discernment, and love. You know the difference between right and wrong, love and hate, and humility and arrogance. Love one another as Jesus loved you. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love with compassion, kindness, gentleness, and submissiveness. Verse 17 reads,
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”