The verses that make up tonight’s lesson deal with people who think they are super Christians and believe their purpose in life, dare I say calling in life is to correct everyone, and when they don’t listen, talk down to them.
Here Comes the Judge
In verse 11 we are to stop speaking evil of other brothers. When you read the verse it seems clear that the evil speaking mentioned here is a result of thinking others are lesser Christians. It doesn’t really matter the cause, we are bound by the scripture to stop the practice of judging our brothers and sisters in Christ. There are many things in scripture specifically declaring right from wrong but sometimes we have to evaluate things based upon the principles taught in the bible. Example Time: the bible does not give us specific direction on what we can and cannot watch on TV but we know there is programming on TV that we should avoid. For instance, if a show is praising adultery then we know that isn’t okay with God so we should turn it off. This is an easy example but sometimes the choices are personal preferences. When we have a personal preference of how to serve God, and speak evil of others for not doing what we think should be done, we violate the scripture here. (Remember the Pharisees chiding with Jesus over washing hands before eating? Mat 15:2) As we see in verse 11 those who judge over personal preference are, in God’s word, speaking evil of the law and are setting themselves up as law givers. v.12
Same Subject New Angle
As we read verse 13 it seems like James is going to another subject, however, the warning is directed towards those who think they have it all figured out. (People who judge think the same way.) The verse tells us to take care not to count our days before God gives them to us, we don’t know what God has in store. The contents of verse 14 tell us that life is short. If you have a few years behind you, like me, you know this to be true. James finishes this up by giving us a thought, we should say if the Lord will. When you hear someone say “Lord willing” now you know where they got it from, James 4:15.
Whether we think we are a super Christian telling everyone how to live, or, think we have it all figured out verse 16 warns us not to be boastful. (We don’t have it all figured out!) In light of the fact that God controls all things we have no right to toot our own horn. Also, in verse 17, we are given a warning; if we know something is sin leave it alone. It is not enough to have the knowledge of sin; we must also exercise wisdom and leave that sin alone.