In 4:11-12, James continues to confront his readers with living what they say they believe, focusing again on speech and the tongue.
James warns against speaking against each other in a way that defames or destroys another’s reputation. Such speech is a symptom “playing God.” I act as judge when God is the only true judge. When I judge so as to condemn or defame another, I have put myself in a place I ought not to be. I ought not to condemn my neighbor as if I am the one who decides right and wrong.
Such slander not only has devastating consequences, it is an affront to God’s law. It is the hypocrisy of speaking as if I am in a morally superior position when the gospel tells me we are all sinful and in need of the same grace.
Questions James 4:11-17
- How important is it to speak honestly and truthfully to one another?
- In what ways do we mistakenly judge our neighbors?
- What new attitudes or changes in behavior do you think James wants to see in his readers?
- Do you think James would discourage planning for the future?
- Summarize chapter 4 in your own words.