Tuesday in the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time

James 4:11-12

Judge Not

James can’t stop warning us about that most unruly of our members—the tongue (1:26; 3:1-12).  Moreover, he has just called us to that most important of virtues—humility.  People who humble themselves before the Lord concern themselves with their own sins; they mourn and weep over their own wicked deeds.  When they think of others, they think in this way: If they are believers, they thank God for their lives and pray God’s blessings on them.  They marvel at the godliness of their brethren and bless God for their gifts and witness.  Or if they know that their brother is straying from the path of life, they pray earnestly for his repentance while at the same time confessing their own sins so that no haughtiness accompanies their prayer.  They will also pray for pagans that God will grant them repentance knowing that they too were once estranged from God (Ephesians 2:12).

But now James warns us against judging our brothers.  He does not mean here that discipline that is necessary in the local church in the hopes of reclaiming an errant brother (Galatians 6:1-5), but rather that haughty spirit that looks upon another with contempt as if haughtiness were a virtue.  On the contrary, in judging his brother with such a prideful heart, the haughty brother judges the law as well, James tells us.  How so?  By usurping the law of God by becoming a law himself!  The judgmental brother errs in that he assumes the role of divine Judge—a role only God can fill.  And in doing so, he applies his own law, though he flatters himself that it is God’s law.  In this case, a change in the judge necessitates a change in the law as the one now judging is anything but the righteous God but instead a poor imitation thereof, a sinner no better than the brother he judges, incorrectly applying a law he has broken time and again which he now coopts and employs without mercy.  He who judges his brother becomes prosecutor, judge, and executioner all at once—and that as a sinner.  And as a sinner rendering judgment, he usurps God’s role as judge and inevitably misapplies God’s law inserting his own law instead and thereby judging God’s law as inadequate.

But we don’t want to do that.  If we do have a brother or sister in the church who is straying from the way, we want to approach them with humility knowing that we too are sinners in need of grace.  We will want to follow our Lord’s words in Matthew 18:15-20, all the while checking our own hearts, being doers of the word and not hearers only, and leaving final judgment to the only One who can fill such a role, who is able to lift up or cast down, save or destroy.  All glory to Him.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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