October 17, 2017
READ: James 4:1-12
Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticise and judge each other, then you are criticising and judging God’s law (v.11).
“You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” This sentiment from Anne Lamott often comes back to me in situations of potential conflict. If I find myself assuming God feels exactly the same way I do about most situations, it’s safe to say my view of God is mixed with a good deal of myself! Only one Person has known the mind of God fully; we His followers always understand imperfectly (1 Corinthians 13:12).
This seems to be part of why Scripture places an equal emphasis on both holiness and humility. Although we’re each to strive to grow in our knowledge of God and His truth, we should always be hesitant to judge others, for our own sin may be causing us to hastily condemn (Matthew 7:1-3).
James saw this clearly, tracing believers’ conflicts to coveting and pride (James 4:1-6). Urging each of them to purify themselves and draw near to God (vv.7-10), he cautioned that judging another unfairly disregarded God’s law (v.12), which required that any accusation be verified through fair investigation and the testimony of witnesses. Unfairly accusing someone could be the sin of slander, as well as giving ourselves God’s role as judge (vv.11-12).
If we’re tempted to assume our anger and impatience is just, let’s pause to first search our hearts and mourn over our own sin (v.9). Through drawing near to God, we can begin to experience His wisdom, which is “peace loving, gentle at all times and willing to yield to others” (3:17). Then we can better discern whether to correct in a “spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1). May we in faith continually turn to Him and be transformed into His image (2 Corinthians 3:18).
365-day-plan: Acts 7:30-60
Read Matthew 5:22 for another reminder of how seriously Jesus takes it when we condemn someone unfairly.
Why do you think it’s easy for us to assume God feels the same way we do about a situation? How can we learn to let His voice continually challenge us?