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James 4:11

Aug 22, 2019   //   by Charlie Garrett   //   Daily Writing, Epistles, Epistles (written), James (epistles), James (written), Writings  //  10 Comments

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. James 4:11

In James 2, he spoke of showing partiality, dishonoring others through a judgmental attitude, fulfilling the royal law, and etc. This same type of thought is seen again here. There is a standard which is given in the law (whatever law applies). However, by our judgments of others in regards to that law, we become judges of the law. In this case, there is the law of God. This will be made explicit in the next verse.

Within the Bible, there have been various laws given by God. He gave a law to Adam. He gave a law to Noah. He gave a law through Moses, and etc. In Christ, a New Covenant is established. It is what comes through Christ which James is referring to. As there is a law, there is a Giver of that law. One precept in particular, that is understood within the law, is to love one another. This is what is on James’ mind. Jesus summed up the Law of Moses by saying –

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-39

Within the New Covenant, love continues to be a predominant theme. To ensure that this precept is held fast, and to ensure that we do not step over the boundaries of authority of the law, he now says, “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren.”

To speak evil of one another is not a means of demonstrating love. As he is addressing the brethren, this is a problem which is found within the body of believers, and it is something James determines to correct. It is a precept also found in Paul’s writings (Ephesians 4:31, for example), and by the hand of Peter as well (see 1 Peter 2:1). There should not be evil-speaking about one another because, as James says, “He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law.”

James has given the royal law in James 2:8, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It is a precept which extends beyond the Law of Moses, and it is one which carries through to all times. But by speaking evil of a brother, one is not loving that person. Rather, he both speaks evil of him to his harm, and he speaks evil of the law. This is because the law has said to love the neighbor. By not doing so, that person is speaking evil of the law itself. Therefore, he “judges the law.” He is sitting as an arbiter of the very law that the Lawgiver has given. That is a most unhappy position to be in!

To sum up the thought, and to finish his words, he then says, “But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.” The Lord has given the law. We are under the law. But if we judge (a verb) the law, then we are not one who is doing the law. Rather, we have become a judge (a noun). As the Lord gave the law, and we are not doing the law, then we stand under the law’s judgment. At some point, we will face the Lord who gave the law, and we will be held accountable for having failed to do the law. In the Christian context, this does not mean a loss of salvation, but a judgment of reward and loss. And there can be no reward for actions which are outside of the law which has been given.

Life application: Context is important when reading verses like this one from James, and also the one in Matthew 7:1, 2 –

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Quite often we may hear or see this verse quoted by people who are attempting to defend the inappropriate lifestyle they live – in other words, “Who are you to judge me, didn’t Jesus tell you not to do that?” However, just a few verses down in that same passage we are told to make judgments and right moral decisions. Inappropriate judgment comes in the form of continuously pointing the finger at others and finding fault when there is no sound basis for it. It is also found in failing to be loving in our attitude and actions towards others. Allowing someone to continue in sin is not loving.

The law is written (whatever law that may be). When someone breaks the law, we know what the violation is and can make a sound decision concerning the offense. But when we sit as a judge of the law – speaking against one another without the weight of the law – then we sit in judgment of the law. For the New Covenant, it is the Lord who gave the law. Therefore, we have no right to sit in judgment on it. We can only apply it to ourselves and to others when a violation of it occurs.

Be careful not to quote such verses out of context because by doing so, we actually violate the very verses we are quoting. To accuse someone who is properly handling the law of mishandling it, it is the same as sitting as a judge over that person’s correct application of it. Always check the context of a verse or you might wind up using it incorrectly.

Lord Jesus, help us to rightly divide Your word, taking everything in its proper context. It is certain that when we misapply what You have given us, we ourselves then violate the very precepts we say that we are upholding. So Lord, give us wisdom when we live by and quote Your precious word. Amen.


  • I thank the Lord for Charlie, he is an awesome pastor and teacher, always helping us learn and discover more and more about our Great God we love, and by doing this, helping us serve Him better. And I thank the Lord for His precious Word praying we get it out there to this lost world. Amen

    • Thank you so very much <3

  • We have always heard Pastor Charlie describe the Bible as God’s “Precious Word”. It is too precious to be mishandled, taken out of context etc. I am very thankful for the guidelines from the SW. as to how to handle the Word of God when studying it. It is so important to have context. This topic of ‘judging’ has been mishandled by a lot of believers simply because of lack of context.
    Last night I attended a prayer meeting. Just before the offering was taken, the Pastor quoted Luke 6: 38 to the audience, telling us that the more we give the more God will give us.
    Pastor Charlie is this verse about ‘money’ or was Jesus talking about ‘mercy’ when He said this?
    I felt that it was taken out of context, but I am not sure.
    Thanks for your reply.

    • Ruth, I like your view of that verse! And agree it’s about mercy and can also be about love and compassion but money????? I would go along with that if one of these mega church fakes were saying it because that is what they live for, money and more money so they can live the life of privilege here on earth. It might ( after Charlie responds to you) be a good question to ask your pastor, what does he think it means???
      God bless sis we fly soon Amen

    • Ruth,

      It is specifically speaking of grains or the like. When you have a basketful of something (a good measure), when you press it down, more can fit in. Then when you shake it, it will continue to settle. More can fit in. You fill it till it is overflowing. This is what God says about a person who is a good giver – not specifically money, but is generous to others. A person who is chintzy will be seen for his lifestyle. Who would give to someone like that? But the person who is kind and gives generously will be rewarded by the Lord for their kindness. This is well reflected in Deut 15:7-11. Jesus is speaking to Israel, under the law, about what the law itself says. The people were to be good to their brothers, the aliens, the widows, the orphans, and etc. God would look upon them and bless them.

      This is not – however – a great verse for giving to the church, unless it is a general pattern of the overall person. If one gives the church and is stingy to others, then they are not following this precept. In the end, our giving verses in the church should come from Paul, not the gospels.

  • With out realizing it or even knowing about it God wrote the principals of Matthew 7: 2 on my heart early on in my life. I have always put myself in the others shoes and asked how would I want to be treated in this or that situation. Please I am not bragging or puffing up with pride here I am only sharing what is a sudden quick review of my life brought on by this verse. I never really thought about it before and really thought this was normal operating procedure for life. Of course I learned later in life that this was not the case and judgements can be wild and vicious at times. I think many Christians Have Matthew 7: 2. Written on their hearts but we never hear about it because we turn the other cheek so often and don’t wildly judge others but actually have compassion for them and their situation and if anything we look to help them out of it most of the time. Helping others and having compassion for others is one of the best things about being a Christian especialy when we are given the opportunity to share the gospel and the salvation we enjoy through our lord Jesus with others…….and i will leave it at that 🙂

    We ARE another day closer to home
    Grace mercy and peace on you and yours
    God bless my friends we fly soon

  • Praise God to have a humble question. Who are our brothers? Those that do the will of God? Those sealed with the Holy Spirit? The oppressed? Those claiming to have faith in Jesus? The church? All mankind?

    • It really depends on the context. Normally in the epistles when it says, “Brethren,” it is talking about those in the church. One cannot actually do the will of God unless they come to Christ. One cannot have the Holy Spirit unless they come to Christ. Those who proclaim Christ would be included in this unless they are not living in accord with the word. Then they should be expelled (1 Cor 5). All mankind is a fraternity, but that is a very wide concept that is highly misused. We can only go so far with those who are at enmity with us.


  • Have a blessed day everyone!

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