That Pesky TongueTed Lear
If you’ve followed along in the book of James, there has already been a warning about the tongue. I don’t think any of us can deny that the tongue can cause significant problems with only a little movement. It’s a daily struggle for me to “tame my tongue.” In today’s reading, James warns of the damage to the intended victim, and also to the unintended victim, when the tongue is misused.
- How have your words impacted others today?
Read the Word
James 4:11-12 (ESV)
11 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. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?
- Who was the intended victim in verse 11?
- What was the additional victim?
- What other results were referenced from speaking evil against one another?
- What do you think was meant by the phrase “doer of the law”? In what ways is God uniquely qualified to be both “lawgiver and judge”?
- Are there any situations where your tongue is turning you into a judge? How can you start loving others instead?
Respond to God
James highlighted the deeper issues of using words to bring harm to another: we “speak evil against the law” and, by doing so, we place ourselves as a judge. We know the law is summed up as “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:14). But what is loving about intending to harm others with our words? When we use words to do harm to another, we’re placing ourselves as a judge; but it’s not our job to be the judge. Instead, we’re called to be doers of the law, which is obedience. These verses remind us to focus on our obedience to God and to allow God to be God, the only qualified judge.
- Pray that God would allow you to learn a new obedience with your words toward others.
- Pray for your words to show love for your neighbor instead of judgment.