Last night’s Bible study looked at the challenging words in James 4:11-12, where we are urged to watch our speech and avoid slander of other believers. James has already had a lot to say about the power of words in James 3. This topic is always relevant to us and always challenges us. In Psalm 34:12-13, we read “Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies.” Words can be used to encourage, uplift and support people, but they can also be used to discourage, belittle, scorn and destroy. People whose lives are governed by God’s Spirit need to have self-control in what they speak and allow God to speak wisdom through us.

It is very easy to look down on others and to assume that we are always right. James warns against judging others. This is a topic we examined extensively when studying Romans (see Romans 14), but last night we focussed on the reasons why only God is qualified to judge. God knows everything (see Ps 139:1-4). Only He knows people’s hearts, their motivation, their thoughts, words and actions. Only He has perfect wisdom and understanding. His judgments are true and just and beyond our understanding(2 Thess 1:5, Rom 11:33. He is the righteous Judge (2 Tim 4:8). Jesus showed us how to entrust Himself to the One who judges justly by His response to those who crucified Him (1 Peter 2:23). Our tendency is to want to defend ourselves and exonerate ourselves by blaming others, but if we have learnt the value of humility, then we do not need to raise ourselves up at the expense of other people. Instead, we will learn to serve others and will be content to wait for God to judge. Jesus often refused to answer the Pharisees’ disdainful questions which were intended to trap Him, even though He was fully qualified to judge! (John 8) We need to be willing to put the needs of others before our own needs and allow God to have the final word.