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Attitude Matters: James 4:11-12

Know Your Role
Lance Terry

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?—James 4:11-12 (ESV)

In today’s sermon, Lance Terry asked, “What is it that makes us so quick to be critical of others? Why do we find it so easy to question our authorities, speak ill of people behind their backs, and criticize anyone we disagree with?” Even on our best days, we all know how easy it is to behave this way. If we are honest, we know the result is often a smug sense of satisfaction in lifting ourselves above others. We are especially susceptible to this behavior when we are under pressure. We call it “venting,” as if the label makes it ok to spew poison.

So why is it wrong?

James wrote that when we speak evil against someone, we make ourselves both judge and juror - a right that belongs only to God.
WATCH> The video above

ASK> Who is the humblest person you have known? Tell the group about them.

ASK> Did you notice the virtue of kindness in the people we described as humble? Why do you think kindness and humility seem to fit easily together?

ASK> Sometimes, the things we say about others is called a “put down.” What is a “put down?”

The Greek beginning to verse eleven (translated as “speak evil”) is the compound word katalaleō which is kata + laleō = down + to speak. It is also related to what we call “slander” and “gossip.”

READ> Romans 1:28-32

ASK> In Paul’s long list of “all manner of unrighteousness,” does it surprise you that gossip slander is listed with things like “murder” and “haters of God”? Why or Why Not?

The link between James 4:7 and James 4:11 lies in the word “devil” (v. 7) and the verb “slander.” In the original, the noun diabolos (devil) means “slanderer.” James then urges his readers not to slander one another, for this is the devil’s work.

The Bible gives us many reasons we should not slander and judge others:

Romans 14:4 | A servant is only responsible to his master.
Romans 2:1-3 | We probably do similar things.
Matthew 7:3-5 | We may do worse things.
Matthew 7:1-2 and James 2:12–13 |We will be judged as we judge others.

READ> 1 Samuel 16:7

Our judgment of others is always shallow because only God knows what is in a person’s heart.

DISCUSS> What are some practical ways we can put these truths into practice this week? What specific things do I need to do differently?
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