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?
Have you ever spoken evil of or judged a fellow believer? Usually the judging comes first, right? Then out spill words that never should've been spoken in the first place.
The Greek word translated "speak evil" is katalaleo, and it packs quite a punch. It means speaking against someone, to talk them down, to speak ill of them, to disdain someone, or to run them down verbally. The intent is to belittle, to mock, to hurt, to rejoice in someone else's undoing. Ouch.
James 4:11-12 (along with the rest of Scripture) directly addresses what we saw in Charlottesville last weekend. God abhors hate and speaking evil of our brothers and sisters (regardless of race). Proverbs 18:21 says, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue." He created and redeemed us to speak life, not death!
At the epicenter of what comes out of my mouth, though, is my heart. (Proverbs 4:23) My words are just an overflow of what is within. If we go one step further, Matthew 6:21 says, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
The question then, is where is my treasure? What do I value? How do I mark my own worth?
When Jesus is our treasure, our hearts aren't racked with sinful judgment, because we know the depth of our own need for grace and forgiveness. When Jesus is our treasure, we speak life. When Jesus is our treasure, we bring joy and encouragement to those around us, because our words are just an overflow of what is within. The Holy Spirit gives life! (Romans 8:2)
Father, we need You. Our hearts are prone to rush to sinful judgment and speak ill of our brothers and sisters when we raise other idols above Jesus. We grieve that we make so many things our treasure - our standing in society, our pride, our work, our relationships, our sense of entitlement. Please forgive us. Please show us what we treasure above Jesus, and turn our hearts to You. May we speak life - because in You we have life - in our homes, workplaces, and our city. May we gossip the Gospel, and nothing else. In Jesus' Name, Amen