We are at the halfway point for this week so let’s power through. It is easier to skip doing boot camp but so rewarding to stick with it. We are growing in our faith, our knowledge of the Word and learning to apply the truths from James to our daily lives.
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?
The Greek word for “slander” is “katalaleo”. It means “to insult, defame, slur, slander. The word is rather broad in meaning, taking in every sort of defamation or verbal aspersion. The fundamental notion is that of speaking about a person in a manner which is aimed at maligning and discrediting him or injuring his reputation, roughly equivalent to the modern slang ‘to bad mouth’.” When was the last time you slandered someone?
James is again addressing the need for us to tame our tongues. When you tie that theme with the theme in the previous verses about humbling ourselves, James may be explaining why we slander others. We tend to “bad mouth” others in an attempt to make them look bad and ourselves look good. This bad mouthing can come in many forms. We can criticize others, point out their flaws and mistakes or even tell mistruths about them as we gossip to others. Gossiping with others may change their opinion of the person and may change others as well as the gossip spreads.
I am sure we have all been on the receiving end of gossip where we have heard something negative about someone else. What do you do when that happens? Gossip is a sin not just for the person doing the talking, but also those who listen. If we want to not participate in gossip we have to do more than not spread it; we need to not listen to it. When was the last time you listened to gossip? When was the last time you gossiped about someone else?
James reminds us that bad mouthing others is a form of judging them. We are not to judge others – we are called to love them. We are not perfect and should therefore, not judge others. The only perfect one is Christ and He has the right to judge. If we want to show Christ to the world, we have to be different than the world. One way we can do that is to not participate in gossip and do what we can to stop it when we hear it.
I am sure everyone has been the topic of gossip or heard others have said something unkind about you. Having others judge you and talk about you can be very painful. Maybe if we spent a little time remembering how it made us feel, we would be less likely to do it to others. When have you suffered because of gossip? How did it make you feel? When was the last time you gossiped about someone else? Make a conscious effort to pay very close attention to your words over the next few days. I think you will be amazed at how often you say something unkind about someone else and will begin to recognize how often you listen to gossip. Submit to the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to tame your tongue, you won’t be able to do it on your own!
All Scripture references from http://www.biblegateway.com
- Greek definition “The Key Word Bible Study”, AMG Publishers