James 4:11-12 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. 12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
Do you use your words to build up or tear down others? In the above passage, James addresses the disciple’s speech for the second time in his letter to the church. Why the redundancy? Because the Lord know the pervasiveness of unruly speech in the life of a believer.
James is primarily concerned with how we speak about fellow believers, but this principle should be applied to all in which we interact. Evil speech encompasses the notion of speaking about a another individual with the intent to tear down, rather than building up. He clearly calls such behavior out as evil. It is likened to murder earlier in James 4.
Interestingly enough, the New Testament word, Devil is literally defined as slanderer or accuser. Revelation 12:10 calls the devil the accuser of the brethren. It should be eye-opening to the believer that when he uses his words to tear down, he is doing the devil’s work! Lord help us to not fall into the trap of supporting the agenda of the evil one.
James also states that when we speak evil of one another, we make ourselves judges of the law. In other words, we place ourselves above the law of God. Simply stated this is a pride issue. Instead of submitting themselves unto the ordinances of the Lord, they operate above them and become judge over their brothers and sisters.
There is only one lawgiver and we must labor to remember that we are under the law of God. His law requires us to act humbly towards those who have wronged us. If we have been wronged, then we are to seek redress via biblical means. James is not forbidding us addressing conflicts or expressing concerns when a fellow believer is going in a direction contrary to the word. However, he is absolutely concerned about the intent of our communications.
Every interaction that we have with others, especially those of the household of faith should be conducted with the intent to humbly build them up within the parameters of God’s word and not to destroy others. In Colossians 4:6, Paul admonishes us to, “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Lord give us grace to consistently live out this commandment!