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. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
II. Reasons not to speak against one another.
- a. You will speak against and judge the law.
- b. You will not be a doer of the law.
In verse 11 James gives us two additional reasons not to speak against one another. First, if we speak against and judge a brother then we are speaking against and judging the law. In order to understand the weight of James’ argument we need to understand what James means by law. As we have already mentioned it seems best to understand the law that James is talking about here as the law that he described in 2:8-12. This royal law is that “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There are several reasons why it is best to understand James as talking about this law here. Originally the command to love your neighbor as yourself is found in Leviticus 19:18. A close look at the context of this passage will reveal its relevance to our text. In v. 16, which is part of a group of commands that are summed up by the “royal law,” we find the command not to go about as a slanderer. So, we can understand James as referring to the royal law because when the command to love your neighbor was originally given “not speaking against one another” .vas a part of it. Additionally I think that it is significant that James uses the word neighbor in v. 12. James uses the word brother(s) three times in v. 11; I think that James switches terms to highlight the relationship between his command here and the royal law.The question that we really need to answer is how are we speaking against and judging the royal law when we speak against and judge our neighbor? The answer to that is actually quite simple. When we speak against one another we fail to keep the royal law. By our failure to keep the law we are denying the law’s authority in our life. In other words, when we do not do what the law commands we are judging the law to be inferior to our own ways. This is how we speak against and judge the law when we speak against and judge other people.
The second reason that James gives for not speaking against one another in v. II is that if we are speaking against one another we will not be doers of the law. This is an important theme in the book of James. For James the only way to prove what you believe is by what you do. Therefore, if you claim to believe in God’s Word then you must act on God’s word. This was exactly James’ point in: 1:23-25. In these verses the man who ignores his own appearance proves that he does not care what his mirror reveals to him. The analogy should teach us that if we do not do what the Bible says then it proves that we do not care what the Bible reveals to us. When we believe God’s Word then we will put it into practice. This includes hearing the Gospel and acting on it. This is one of the reasons why in 1:25 James says that the doer of God’s word will be blessed in what he does.If we are speaking against one another then we are not doers of God’s word. Rather, we arc breaking the command of God’s word. This is why we must strive to be doers of God’s word. We have to replace our evil speech with words that are consistent with the royal command to love one another. When our words are saturated with love, then we will be doers of God’s word. This means that we don’t always have to get the last word in. We can help another in their mishaps, rather than having a laugh at their expense. When someone comes to you to speak poorly of another person you remind them of this command, and you demonstrate to them how to be a doer of God’s word. If you can humble yourself enough to do this you will “be blessed” because God gives grace to the humble.