...do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and one Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:11-12 NIV
The divide in our country among social issues, politics, and moral matters has continued to widen despite a movement among both sides begging for tolerance and understanding. No one likes to be judged, yet we make quick, snap, impromptu judgments among each other all the time. Rants across social media, gossip among social circles, and commentaries on anything that looks different than us prevails. However, as followers of Christ we are told to do it differently. Don’t take my word for it, look at God’s Word in our key verse above. James clearly says,
Do not slander others.
If you speak against your brother (or sister) you sit in judgment.
Who are you to judge your neighbor?
Ouch! That is hard to take and immediately makes me want to defend myself. But we don’t have to defend ourselves and our own opinions because we follow one Lawgiver and one Judge who is able to save and to destroy. We must die to our flesh and live by the Spirit in our thoughts and actions towards one another. We are called to walk, talk, and act like Christ and allow God to judge the heart and actions of others. We all will stand in judgment before a just and Holy God one day. Every single one of us. So who are you to judge?
When I see things across social media that rage against one side or the other while claiming to be a follower of Christ it hurts my heart and honestly makes me a little angry. We certainly have the freedom to share our hearts about an issue that bothers us, but if all we do is blast the other side to make ourselves look better than someone else then how have we drawn anyone to Christ? We have created a greater divide. I would say we have done more harm in the body of Christ than good because we have perpetuated an unfortunate stereotype that all evangelicals are judgmental, flame throwing, haughty hypocrites. That’s not how I want to be judged, but more importantly that is not how I want other people who are far from Christ to see all Christians.
The quarrels and fights among us are from a desire to fulfill something in our lives that only Christ can fill. Instead of engaging in conflict with the other side, we need to change our perception. Why are you angry that a sinner who doesn’t know Christ, acts like a sinner? Why would we expect anything different? Every one of us needs a Savior and we all were dead in our sin until Christ saved us through the gift of grace and mercy. God loved us so deeply that He created us in His image and gave us the gift of Christ. But sin has destroyed and distorted God’s plan for what is good, right, and holy.
How do we draw others who are far from Christ into a relationship when we feel like we are being attacked and judged ourselves?
God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Submit yourselves to God.
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. (James 4:6-8)
Resist the urge to lash out. Resist the need to defend yourself and to be angry. Pray for those who oppose you. Love others with a big Christ-like love that they may never have experienced before. Let your speech, your words, and your actions be seasoned with mercy and grace and when you must speak the Truth, speak it in Love.
Heavenly Father, we submit ourselves before You today. We all are guilty of making judgments on other people and feeling like we must assert our rights, our thoughts, and our opinions onto others. Forgive us for being quick to speak and slow to listen and give us a heart focused on You. Would You humble us and allow us to submit our opinions to You? Would You give us Christ-like love to see those that are far from You and, instead of attacking them, learn to pray for them? Would You soften our hearts and tame our tongues so that others would know we were Christians not by merely our words but by our love for them? Give us opportunities to cross the great divide of sin that separates so many of us and draw us near to You as we draw others to You as well. In Jesus’ Name we ask these things, Amen.