James 4:11 – Do not speak against one another, brethren.
The Gospel has as a major focus on relationship. Relationship is rooted in care for another. Mature relationship is the willingness to put another person’s welfare above your own. The greatest demonstration of this is revealed in Christ Jesus. God put His love for us first when He gave His Only Begotten Son to mankind. As Mary carried the “the Prince of Peace” in her womb, she carried the greatest expression of love that creation has ever known.
Jesus taught His disciples about God’s love when He said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). The men the Father gave Jesus were about as diverse a group as one could find within the Jewish culture. In the natural, they did not have much in common. There were brothers in the mix, but even brothers can have deep-rooted issues in their relationship. It was the love of the Father in Christ that provided the spiritual substance for a new kind of love among people.
James instructs the body of Christ not to speak against one another. He helps us to understand that when we speak against our brother or sister, we are speaking against the law and judging the law. He goes on to say, if we judge the law, we are not a doer of the law, but a judge of the law. We need a proper biblical view. “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?” (James 4:12). Making judgment about others is a dangerous proposition for kingdom people. According to 1 Corinthians 11, the wrong judgment of others in the body of Christ caused some believers to die an early death, while others were weak and sick as a result.
When a person is judgmental and critical, the spiritual circulation system among believers becomes clogged. Having a loving and accepting attitude of others opens up communication and an opportunity for a deeper development of love and respect. There are times when a person needs a word of correction or reproof, but it is important to understand the depth of the relationship we have with the individual before bringing either one. It is also important to have invested time and care in the relationship because it creates a platform for a corrective word.
Many times a relationship breaks down because of speaking behind another’s back. I believe this is what James is addressing in his exhortation to not speak against one another. If you find that you are having a relational difficulty with a family member or a brother or sister in Christ, go to that one and gently seek to resolve the problem. Do not go to others in an attempt to try and figure out what to do. The Scripture is clear, go first to the person where there is offense and try to resolve the problem. You may win your brother or sister as you exercise Christ’ love toward them.
Father, keep me from being a judge of the law and help me be a doer of Your word. Keep me from a critical spirit and give me a sincere love for family members and my brother and sister in Christ. Preserve me as Your disciple through love for my fellow believer. In this Christmas season, help me to be a witness of the Prince of Peace.