Tuesday, January 13, 2009

James 4:11-12. "Watch Your Words"

Read James 4:11-12.

"Brothers, do not slander one another." NIV
If you read yesterday's post before I changed it, this passage was lumped in. I've since pulled it out to deal with separately as it seems to deserve it's own post.

Slandering one another and thus judging them is a way of placing ourselves in judgement over them. When we do so, are we not placing ourselves in a sense above God if not at least equal to Him? Is that not what Lucifer did and was subsequently kicked out of heaven for? We must be careful to deal with our fellow brother with the grace that was afforded to us, not with bad-mouthing and degrading comments to others about them.

I don't believe this passage is talking about consequences of being sinned against by a brother or about biblical discipline. First, being sinned against causes great pain from trust being broken. If the offender is repentant, then over time that trust can be rebuilt and the relationship restored. However, during that time, both parties must not speak out against the other and try to destroy their reputation among others but keep their counsel to themselves.

Secondly, Scripture is very clear about those who profess to believe and yet choose to blantantly sin without any notion of or progression toward change. Read 1 Corinthians 5:1-13. Paul makes it very clear that the those who choose to live in their sin are to be put out of the church body and handed "over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord." This is an active discipline of the church and not considered slander for there is evidence of wrong doing and continued activity in it by choice. Therefore, it is not a matter of judging one another but of adherring to the standards that God set for us to follow as His children.

If they choose to walk in their sinful ways, then being part of the body, not as a seeker, but as one who claims to be a devoted Christ-follower, is not an option. Not only do they spit in the face of Christ by their choices, but their sin infiltrates the body like yeast working through the dough. A Christian must always work toward eradicating sin from their life, not courting it. Tolerating the sin will only push them farther from the presense of God by their disobedience.

But even while guiding a believer through biblical discipline, we must exercise restraint in talking against them. Slander will not help them in being restored to the fold, and your heart will be tainted by your judgmental attitude.

Further Thoughts:
  1. What is the different actions taken by the church concerning an immoral believer versus an immoral non-believer?
  2. How is vs. 11-12 related to the earlier passage in James 3:1-11?
  3. Look for other passages either on the "tongue," "gossip," or "church discipline."
  4. How does living in humility before God help us to keep a reign on our tongue?

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