11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?
I note that the context of judgement into which James is speaking is slanderous judgement. In other words, accusations or utterances that are false and defame or damage another’s reputation. I am thinking that James is saying that when you slanderously judge a brother or sister, you are taking the law, as it were, into your own hands. You become the Lawgiver and the Judge. But there is only one. In essence, I read James to be saying here – allow one person to Judge another person’s life and work…the Lord God Almighty. And perhaps I could also say that when we become too obsessed with how our neighbor is living and what they are doing, we are perhaps conveniently eschewing our own responsibility to be living the word of God ourselves. It’s far easier to judge someone else’s life and work rather than to do what we’re called live and work towards.
I must be careful to keep my heart and my thinking free from the slanderous judgement of my neighbour. I must remember that there is only one Lawgiver and Judge, and I am certainly not Him. I must be careful, whenever the temptation or opportunity comes to judge my neighbour, to ask myself, “how are you going in that area of your life?” “Are you walking in obedience to God there?” And even if I should find myself to be doing ok in an area of Christian life, instead of casting judgements and slandering my neighbour, I must instead ask, “how can I encourage, help or otherwise build up my neighbour in this area of life?” This shifts me from a propensity to slander, to a will to love, build up and support my neighbour.
Lord, help me to keep my heart free from harsh, false and damaging thinking towards my brother or sister. Help me keep my eyes upon my own life and work first, and earnestly seek to live as you’ve called me to live, and where ever it is possible and opportune, to assist, encourage and bless my neighbour in their life and work.
Written by Ps. Rob Waugh