11 Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?
The next section of James’ letter gives some examples of what it looks like to embrace worldliness. As I mentioned before, this letter is to exemplify what Godly living looks like. In contrast, James gives us some examples. This is the first example he gives us.
We should first note 2 important aspects of these two verses. Firstly, the term “law” here is not in reference to Mosaic Law. Remember, James is not talking to Jews, rather followers of Christ. Therefore, The Mosaic Law is not relevant in this piece. I’m sure there is an argument somewhere about it but the fact of the matter is that at least in the version of the bible I am reading, “the law” and “The Law” are two specific things. Secondly, how do we know James isn’t talking about the law of the land? In verse 12 James talks about the Lawgiver and Judge, Christ, so therefore he is talking about the law of The Spirit given by Christ as we see in Romans 3, “27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”
How often do we judge another by saying they aren’t following God the right way? I know I do it. It’s a fine line between seeing someone think they are doing the right thing (and you do not concur) and when you believe (backed by scripture) they are heading down the wrong path. How easy is it for us to at least think about what they are doing wrong? “You need Jesus!” to quote an old school rebuke of people who are seemingly always in trouble. Sure, everyone does, but they aren’t gonna find Him by you hitting them over the head with a bible!
Even so, there are people who call themselves Christians and don’t necessarily seem like they follow Christ at all. Someone quoted Gandhi on Facebook this week, a quote that makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time because it is so true, “I like your Christ but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are nothing like your Christ.” Why is that? Because we are caught up in the worldiness of judging others!!!
Certainly we can use the excuse of correcting a brother or sister so that they follow Christ closely or to help someone understand His saving grace. This is why we must SHOW the world what following Christ is about. We must remember, it is not up to us! James says it clearly in verse 12, “the One who is able to save and destroy;” He is the originator of faith, direction, etc. A person’s walk with or without God is not our business. That’s why it is called a “walk with God”. It’s not a “walk with God and someone else too”. Certainly God calls us to walk alongside each other, but it is not our job to correct someone else’s relationship with God. What if YOU’RE wrong? Have we ever stopped to think of that?
Christ calls us to love each other unconditionally. We aren’t to judge, to ridicule, or even correct. We are to love. If we love someone like this and we “are right,” God will reveal that to them and inspire a change. Whether it’s being saved, getting baptized, being more Christlike, or whatever else you can think of, it doesn’t matter what that other person is doing. What matters is how you handle it, and Christ calls us to handle it all with love. Without love there is no hope and without hope there is no life.
We all need to live a little more.