Some communities become toxic, and you’ve probably been around one before.
Workplaces can digress into name-calling and back-biting. This group against that group. So-and-so’s mad at so-and-so.
It happens in schools across the world. Rumors—usually bad ones—spread like wildfire among teenagers. She’s mad at him, he’s mad at her, her clothes are out of style, and he’s got a weird haircut.
And on it goes.
People talk, and because we live in a fallen world, people talk badly, and they hurt each other with their words.
But there’s no place for it in the church.
James says this:
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11-12)
I sense some frustration in James here, don’t you? It seems like he wants to say something like, Don’t you guys know better than to slander one another? Aren’t you out of middle school? Most importantly, aren’t you followers of Jesus?
The problem with slander, James says, is that we set ourselves up as judges. We decide that we’re qualified to pass judgment on someone else’s behavior.
There’s a major problem with that, though—we’re not the judge. There’s only one Judge, and he hasn’t asked for our help.
Maybe you’re seldom guilty of this, but most of us struggle with it. Regardless, we should commit never to talk badly about another believer.
In your devotional time today, ask God to forgive you for the bad stuff you’ve said about other Christians, and ask him to put a gate over your mouth. It’s really simple—there’s no good reason for us Christians to talk badly about one another. We’re on the same side, and we’ve got more than enough to do to keep us busy without wasting time with such destructive habits.
James is venting a bit, isn’t he? Notice how he closes with this word of chastisement: “Who are you to judge your neighbor?”
Amen to that.