James 4:11, 12
Speak not evil one of another, brothers. He that speaks evil of his brother, and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law…
The besetting sin of the Jews; the besetting sin of man: evil-speaking. But to speak evil, is to judge; and who are we, that we should judge? One is the Judge, even God.
I. THE JUDGMENT OF MAN. In some cases, where great public ends are to be served, man seems to be justified in exercising a power of delegated judgment; so the magistrate, the minister, the historian. But even here the power is qualified; the judgment of motives is not absolute. The besetting sin, however, is to judge of motives where only the act is known; and, which generally accompanies the former, to conjecture the act where little is definitely known. So in the world; so, alas, in the Church! But why is this judgment, why is this evil-speaking, wrong? There is a law against which it sins - the law of love. Indicated in "the Law" (Galatians 6:2); also in the word "brother." Yes, a law which has said, "Judge not" (see Matthew 7:1). But such judgment has a more uniquely evil relation to law than this.
1. False relation to law: "Speaketh against the law, judgeth the law." What a subtle hypocrisy is this! When we think we are championing the law by our censorious speaking, we are in reality blaming it, condemning it; for we are virtually denying its right to teach us charity! So do we sit in judgment, forsooth, on the law itself.
2. True relation to law. "A doer." By charity, we recognize the validity and rectitude of the great law of charity, and ourselves obey its precepts. This law, let us remember, is impersonated in Christ. If, then, we do not bow to its sway, we do not receive Christ; and, not receiving Christ, we have no salvation.
II. THE JUDGMENT OF GOD. The great principle is here stated that, ultimately and absolutely, there is one Lawgiver, one Judge.
1. The legislative authority of God: rooted in his very nature, as God. And the special law of love rooted in this, that "God is love."
2. The judicial authority of God. He discerns infallibly the sin of the creature.
(1) As being himself perfectly good: an essential requisite. The mirror and the breath. So that infinite holiness!
(2) As being the One to whom all sin is adversely related. Whatever its exact bearings directly, it is essentially hostile to God. And as in him we live and move and have our being, its hostility is immediately known by God.
3. The executive authority of God. "Able to save, and to destroy."
(1) To save: taking into blessed fellowship with himself, as having affinity.
(2) To destroy: casting off from himself, as being alien (see 2 Thessalonians 1:9). Be there is nothing arbitrary in the judgment of God, from first to last. The legislative, the judicial, the executive functions are all rooted in his nature, and in the essential relation of that nature to us. "Who," then, "art thou that judgest thy neighbor?" Actually judging, not thy neighbor, but the law; nay, not the law, but the great God from whom all law springs, and to whom it all returns! May God save us from this! - T.F.L.
Parallel VersesKJV: Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.
WEB: Don't speak against one another, brothers. He who speaks against a brother and 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.