September 29, 2014

Today you should read: James 4:11-12

Little Monday morning controversy, anyone?

This has to be one of the most divisive, proof-texted, misunderstood texts in the Bible. These two verses have been at the heart of disagreements, both with believers/believers and believers/non-believers. But… what is James really saying here?  And what is he not saying? Are we to never judge? Well, that can’t be true. We’d be the worst spouse, friend, co-worker, parent, child, brother, etc. if that were the case. So we must agree that he is talking about something deeper than just never showing disapproval. Could it be, friends, that he is continuing the discussion he started earlier in this letter on the use of our tongues? I heartily think so.

Here’s how one commentary that I find profoundly helpful (ESVSB) puts it:

“James restates the basic problem behind the issues discussed in 3:1–4:10: the misuse of the tongue to speak evil or to slander others. Speaking ill of others is the result of all the arrogant boasting (3:5), jealousy (vv. 14, 16), self-centered desires (4:1, 3), and pride (v. 6) that James is warning against. Such slanderous conduct is decried in both the OT (Lev. 19:16Ps. 50:20Jer. 6:28) and NT (Rom. 1:302 Cor. 12:201 Pet. 2:1). judges the law. The “law” likely refers to these OT laws against slander, particularly Lev. 19:16, which leads to 19:18, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” which James calls “the royal law” (James 2:8). Yet it also includes in a broader sense Jesus’ kingdom laws regarding love for neighbor (Matt. 22:39) and for one another (John 13:34–35; 15:12, 17). Those who inappropriately judge others (Matt. 7:1–5Rom. 2:11 Cor. 4:5) break God’s law and show contempt for God. When a person begins to “judge the law,” he is usurping the place of the one lawgiver and judge. God alone gave the law, and he alone is judge of all (Ps. 9:19Isa. 2:4Joel 3:12). to save and to destroy. Possibly an implicit message to the divisive boasters, warning them of future judgment.”

So we are not to be foolish, inappropriate, self-gratfying judges. Sounds like what Jesus said in Matthew 7, right?

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5 ESV)

Let’s think through this one together today. How do we apply what James is saying here, while also being bold about our faith and caring for friends and loved ones who are making bad choices? What is your understanding of this text (James 4:11-12) in light of Matthew 7:1-5, Proverbs 27:17, Jude 17-23, and Galatians 6:1-2? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Posted by: Todd Thomas

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Author: cpclexington

Lexington & Richmond KY

2 thoughts on “September 29, 2014”

  1. Todd. Good post. Thanks for the insight. We too many times miss the last part of Matthew 5:1-7. “…….. then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye.” We need each other to ‘judge’ – with the attitude of love and a desire for holiness and purity for each other. Scripture teaching about judging has to do with the attitude and motivation behind it. We are not blind. We can see sin. The question is what do we do with our awareness? Do we pray, lovingly and with a broken heart confront and come along side, or do we ‘wag the tongue’ and have bad attitudes toward others? In our quest to be like Jesus, we need each other. We are the best at lying to ourselves and being blind to our own shortcomings. Please judge me in this Spirit. I need you and other brothers and sisters. Another key is in Matthew 7: 5. Let’s make sure we are addressing the log in our own eye……….. Have a great day my brothers and sisters of CPC.

  2. I think we sometimes are too quick to make judgements…and thus usurp God’s timing on dealing with issues within not only others but ourselves too. For me, I can be pretty hard on my own heart, harder than God often is. And the way I treat me is how I treat others. Learning to invite God into the situation or circumstance before reacting and/or judging could prove helpful, in allowing God to provide His love and grace for the issue at hand. For truly, He is the only true and righteous judge!

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