James 4:11-12: “11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. 12 There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”
Slander means to charge falsely with malicious intent, to attack the good name and reputation of another.
When you slander someone, you are placing yourself above them as a judge. A judge forms a critical opinion of someone, renders a legal decision, and has the legal power and authority to condemn. When you slander someone, you are also placing yourself in a position of the law in that person’s world.
James has already given us the royal law we are to obey: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (James 2:8).
The law is a representative declaration of God’s legal requirement. We are communicated this through God’s Word and our conscience. Even in a world darkened and stained by sin, we intuitively know that murder, theft, lying, stealing, adultery, and the rest of the Ten Commandments are wrong.
Don’t put yourself in God’s place. There is only one God, and you aren’t Him!
Instead of being the law and a judge in someone else’s life, spend time dealing with your sin and transgressions. If you take your sin more seriously, perhaps you’ll have less time to slander others.
This doesn’t mean you ignore or downplay the sin in others’ lives. Slander is talking to everyone else about _____ instead of going to ______ about sin.
People often quote Matthew 7:1, “Do not judge others and you will not be judged,” in an attempt to defend themselves from others’ judgment. They ignore verse 2, “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.” In other words, it isn’t “don’t judge” but “watch how you judge.” Our judgment should be done in love and grace, with the goal of restoration. We should build others up (remove the speck in their eyes) after getting the log removed from our own eyes.
Slander is always a sin. Judgment is not. There is a biblical process for judging others’ sins and restoring them to the community of faith. We must follow the biblical principles of confrontation and reconciliation. Go to the person first, then take some others, then the church (elders). There is no room in the process for slander or gossip.
Some questions to consider:
-Where are you acting as a judge in someone’s life where you don’t have the authority to do so?
-What logs do you need to remove from your eye before you HELP a brother or sister remove the speck from their own eyes?
-Why is slander easier than biblical confrontation and restoration?