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?
III. There is already a Lawgiver and Judge.
a. You will speak against and judge the law.
In all of this we must remember, Just as James reminds us, that there is only one lawgiver and judge. So when we speak against and judge one another we are not only speaking against and judging the law, but we are also speaking against and judging the lawgiver. That lawgiver and judge is God. When we disobey His word we are saying, with our actions, that our wisdom is better than God’s wisdom. James has already given us the fruit of man’s wisdom compared with the fruit of godly wisdom (3:13ff); the differences are stark. Clearly God’s wisdom far exceeds our wisdom, and it is important that we live our lives with this truth in mind.
When we live our lives understanding that God’s wisdom exceeds ours then it will be far easier to trust in Him. We can trust that when God makes a command it is the best thing for our lives. Let me give you an example of what I mean. Let’s say that someone treats you unfairly. Maybe it is your child’s teacher at school, and she gives your child an unfair grade. It would be very easy to point out to everyone how you are right and she is wrong. It would also be “understandable” if you had negative things to say about this teacher. You might feel like you deserve to act this way, but then you remember that God’s word commands you not to speak against that teacher. Not only that, but you are also commanded to lover her as you love yourself. In the end how you act will depend upon how much you trust God. If you trust your own judgment more than God then you will speak against this teacher in an unloving way. the result will be quarrels and conflicts (v. 1). However, if you trust God then you will love that teacher and refrain from slandering her. The result will be that you have glorified God, and been merciful to your child’s teacher. You may even find that your peaceful attitude will result in this teacher doing the right thing. But most importantly you will prove by your actions that you are a repentant person, and you will receive the mercy of God (2:13).b. There in ONE who is able to save and destroy.
Not only is there only one lawgiver and judge, but additionally there is only one who is able to save and destroy. God is able to save those who repent unto Jesus and destroy the unrepentant for their rebellion. We must not forget this. When we speak against one another this is the God that we are rebelling against. This is what makes sin so serious. Not only will our act of speaking against one another break God’s law, but it will also reveal our standing before Him.
If we obey the royal law, loving one another rather than speaking against one another, then it proves that we have repented unto God’s grace. If we continue to speak against one another then it reveals an unrepentance that leads to destruction. To live a life of unrepentance is an act of pride by which you believe that your wisdom is better than God’s. Conversely, repentance is a true act of humility by which you admit your need for God’s grace. In Romans 6:23 we see the results of repentance and unrepentance. Seeing the two side by side it is amazing that it is so hard to have a repentant heart. I want to conclude exactly the way that James did. In light of the result of speaking against one another and who God is, who are you to Judge your neighbor?