Easy, Cowboy

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A public declaration of someone else’s sin should be a last resort, not the first stop.

James 4:11-12

Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or 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 of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?

Do you hear Matthew 7:1 playing in the background as you read today’s verses? “Judge not lest ye be judged!” This is the most well know passage in the entire Bible… and also the most misapplied. We use it to muzzle anyone who speaks out against something or someone we hold dear. It’s the great mute button of the 21st century.

If the culture’s use of Matthew 7:1 is right, then James and every other New Testament writer are guilty of violating it. Sinful “judging” or slander is at the heart of today’s passage not discerning right from wrong. Christians should avoid impugning one another’s character. We should avoid passing judgment on one another’s motives. We should remember that we rarely have all the facts. We should tread gently when making a proclamation about the state of another’s eternal destiny. In other words, we should apply James 4:11-12.

I don’t know about you, but I really struggle with this. It’s far easier to pass judgment than it is to extend grace… or at least, a little patience. A public declaration of someone else’s sin should be a last resort, not the first stop. Remember: God will look right past your words and into the condition of your heart. Adding “Bless his heart” or “God bless her” may make your judging, slander, or gossip sound like some sort of well-meaning Christian talk, but God is not fooled. God is all knowing... we aren’t… so hold your horses, cowboy. There is only one Sheriff in town, and you’re not him.

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