James 4:11-12 “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of 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 one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?”
As a continuation of the blog “The Pitfalls of James“, the focus now narrows to the last couple of dangers we face.
Pitfalls can become traps that lay deceptively along our path, take our eyes off the road even for a moment and we fall into the snare of the enemy. The pitfalls of selfishness, pride, and friendship of the world are tactics of the enemy that have proven effective for thousands of years. Those who have been ensnared by a web of denial can attest to the difficulty in freeing oneself from such a demise. Much like pitfalls in life, landmines can be just as devious but in a much more sinister way.
Landmines are laid intentionally to destroy. Military personnel are all too familiar with landmines. The sad history of their destructive nature has been a legacy of the tragedy of war and those caught in it’s unfortunate path. Landmines have been known to sit for years, waiting patiently for an unsuspecting visitor to happen upon its clever trap. If a landmine doesn’t kill you, it leaves its victims severely maimed and broken, such is the case with slander, it may seem harmless once stepped on, but the destruction of trying to get out of it can be for a lifetime.
The definition of slander is the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.
The parallel in God’s Word reads like this:
Exodus 23:1 “You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice. You shall not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute.”
James likens slander to one who thinks they are above God’s law. To pronounce judgement on someone else through the things you say about them is to place yourself in a position as administrator of the law. In other words, when we judge others we act like we wrote the law and place ourselves in a position as God. Jesus condemned judgement vehemently, He made it quite clear that we have not been reserved that right.
If we place ourselves in a position as judge, we also must place ourselves in a position as savior.
Can you see the egregious nature of slander? It isn’t an innocuous report about someone that tickles the ears of the gossiper and brings secretive discussions concerning someone else, it is a landmine of destruction both toward ourselves and against those we harm.
“Humility is not thinking of yourself at all. The humble person is lost in the needs of others.”
― John Mark Comer, My Name is Hope: Anxiety, depression, and life after melancholy
To move from a position as a slanderer (i.e. gossiper), is to understand who we are in before God.
Who we Are
Showing partiality for or against someone is difficult from a position of ignorance. Even when we think we have all of the inside scoop, we have very little understanding of someone’s heart and why they act the way the do.
When we talk poorly of someone, we pervert justice. We twist the facts based off limited understanding and then leave our hearers left to judge. We also pull others into a position of whether they continue to act like our friend and listen or into an uncomfortable position of having to rebuke us.
Galatians 6:1 “Brothers, even if a man should be caught in some trespass, you the spiritual ones restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself, lest you also be tempted.”
Humility is necessary when it comes to understanding our place. It is not our place to disseminate others information that may harm them, it is also not our place to bring judgment against them. Our place is to encourage, build up, strengthen, exhort, and ultimately lead them toward healing in Christ. The little bit of excitement that comes with passing on someone else’s poor report doesn’t compare to the joy of watching someone heal and become restored.
For those who don’t care how they treat others, the landmine of apathy is their destruction.
James 4:17 “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.”
Apathy can be characterized as a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. The one who displays apathy in their life is the one who cares very little of anyone other than themself.
The scathing indictment of being labeled apathetic is one most people would abhor. To think of ourselves as uncaring or unconcerned for others would be likened to describing ourselves like a monster, stepping on everyone who gets in our way without a care.
Now, consider ourselves in light of who we are.
“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”John Stuart Mill
Evil in this world will go on unabated without godly people doing something about it. God’s people have been placed in this world for a purpose, to bring light in the darkness, to take a stand for righteousness, and to turn the tide of evil until evil’s appointed time has come. There is a day that is coming when righteousness is removed from the land and evil will have nothing to keep it back, that time of tribulation upon the world will be what a world without the church really looks like.
Until that day of evil comes, we as God’s people must act on the leading of God’s Spirit in our lives. If we don’t act now, we only have ourselves to blame for the wickedness that is waiting to be unleashed.
“Apathy adds up, in the long run, to cowardice.”Rollo May
Much like slander, apathy is easy to ignore and can seem justifiable in its course—both lead to destruction.
What leads to apathy? Does a poor prognosis of things to come cause some people to just give up? Could fear of failure or others slandering your position lead you regressing or is it just the pioneer effect of seeing evil all around and circling the wagons in defense, holding out until the end?
John 9:41 “If you were blind,” Jesus replied, “you would not be guilty of sin. But since you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”
The follower of Christ claims to walk in God’s truth. Truth is enlightening, it exposes sin, and leads the follower along the way. It’s very difficult to claim to know Truth and remain apathetic, it displays a lack of love. There are so many people who are marching toward their death, unaware what lies beyond the grave. If we don’t show them the way, how will they know? If we don’t express the love of Christ to the lost, how will they see Him?
There are so many pitfalls and land mines in life, praise God we have been enlightened to these dangers along the way.
The Word of God is our guide, the Spirit brings understanding. Walk in the Spirit and the Lord will steer you far away from the destruction that lies ahead.
Walk confidently in Christ, knowing we have an advocate and He loves us. The enemy may try to entrap but the wisdom of God sees through them and stays clear.
Walk securely on God’s path of righteousness.