Posted on July 1, 2015
James 4:11-12—No Right to Judge
Suppose… You enter a courtroom by way of the judge’s chamber door. You’re wearing the judge’s robe and wielding his gavel. You sit down in his chair behind the bench. You speak forcefully, calling the courtroom to order. Still, no matter how authentic you appear to be, unless you’re vested with the proper authority you’re not a judge—you’re an imposter. You won’t be respected—you’ll be arrested!
We all understand this is how a courtroom works. We would never presume to act as judge because we know that’s not our place. Yet we often make a much more serious presumption without hesitating.
Get your Bible and read James 4:11-12, then go back to the start of chapter four and read it from the beginning.
Having just urged his readers to humble themselves before God (v. 10), James now gives one very practical way to do it. Don’t speak against your brother/sister. James says when you criticize your brother, you declare yourself superior to him—and you step into the Judge’s place, a place you have no right to take. Both are quite opposite the humble way God wants you to live.
Only God is Lawgiver and Judge. Based on equal attributes of love and holiness, God alone has the ability to save and to destroy (v.12).
• God wrote the rules. He knows the intent behind every word. He will perfectly apply His Word to every circumstance.
• God is privy to all the facts, including the unseen state of our brother’s heart. Simply put, He knows things we don’t know.
• God will make the final determination, governing in the perfect balance of 100% holiness and 100% love. As Lawgiver and Judge, it’s His proper place.
When we’re judgmental toward our fellow Christians, we assume a role we’re not authorized for.
Note that James is talking about our Christian brothers and sisters here. Judgmentalism and critical words don’t belong in our churches or in our Christian relationships. Never, ever, ever are we authorized to castigate our fellow Christians. No exceptions. Period. (A high percentage of judgmental words are spoken in gossipy conversations. If you’re involved in a conversation that takes an ugly turn, get out! Better yet, do your part to stop the other participants from continuing.)
- pray for each other (This type of prayer is usually best offered privately, from your heart to God’s ears, rather than in a group where it can become a “holy” mask for gossip.)
- encourage each other
- forgive each other
- bear each other’s burdens
- lift each other up
- separate from an unrepentant brother or sister for a time, with a loving goal of restoring him/her while protecting the rest of the Body from their influence (1 Cor. 5).
But we cannot and must not bash each other, in private or in public.
Okay, that takes care of our Christian relationships. But what about those outside the church? What about the evil world? We have no need to judge them because we can’t expect the unsaved to live by the standards of the saved (1 Cor. 5:9-13).
- love them
- shine the light of Christ, living lives that are above reproach.
- lead and teach them, making the most of every opportunity (Colossians 4:5-6)
- be well-prepared to gently, respectfully explain to anyone who asks, about the hope and grace Christ offers (1 Peter 3:15-16)
- endure insults and persecution with grace and maturity (Matthew 5:11-12, 43-48)
- pray for them.
But we cannot and must not bash them, in private or in public.
In short, God has never handed over the reins of judgment to us. When we read, study and know His Word, we’ll recognize the difference between light and darkness, between God’s truth and satan’s lies, between the ways of godliness and the ways of sinfulness. We’ll become wise about how to love others, inside and outside of the church. We’ll be fortified against the schemes of satan to lure us away from our Lord. And we’ll live Christ and leave the judging to God.
• Work on memorizing James 4:12, adding this verse to your arsenal. Be sure to review the verses you’ve already learned! (With this week’s verse, you should know 14 verses—about 13% of the book of James. Good job!)
• Check out the words “judge” and “judgment” in a good Bible concordance. Observe how many uses are referring to God as judge, and how many are referring to man as judge. What do you notice?
• Read James 4:13-17, then once again read through the entire book of James. Go back to the introductory post in this series; read the seven suggestions for getting the most from this study. Is there one you can use this week to gain a little extra from the book of James? I’ll meet you here next Wednesday!
© Diane McLoud 2015