James 4:11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren.
James 5:9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.
Almost 20 years ago my wife and I attended a national meeting of church leaders and pastors in conflict. We were disturbed by what we heard and saw. Pastors made derogatory remarks about one another. Leaders unashamedly ridiculed brothers and sisters with differing views. The spirit and manner of the comments grieved us.
But to be honest… I find myself doing that at times. Saying or thinking something about someone in my spiritual family that James says is “evil”. Why is it wrong?
We must increasingly view ourselves as one body. My brother or sister in Christ is part of me. When one hurts, I should hurt. When one is blessed, I should feel a part of the blessing too. We enjoy a union in Christ that is intimate and real.
Why is it wrong to “speak evil of” or “grumble against” a brother? What I do to them… I am doing to myself. How absurd! I might as well stand in front of a mirror and call myself names as to tear down a born again brother or sister in Christ.
James stresses that to “speak evil” is really a judging activity that belongs to God. When I reach a conclusion about a brother’s character, actions or motives and then repeat that conclusion to whoever will listen — I am assuming the role of judge. I am taking God’s place.
How much better to leave judgement in the hands of our Father!
What can we positively do today to turn the tide in the church?
- Determine to build up and bless everyone you talk to and talk about;
- Set your heart against a complaining, critical spirit; and
- Graciously refuse to listen or tolerate “evil speaking” about others.