Today’s Reading: James 4:1-17
Has anyone ever told you, “I want you to stop it! If you can’t say something good about somebody, don’t say anything at all.”? Yet, why do we find it so hard to live up to that old saying?
Despite our seemingly casual attitude toward it, slander is a particularly destructive sin. Slander strikes at people’s dignity defames their character and destroys their reputation
James had his own ideas on the cause of a critical spirit. When he talked to a group of believers who were bickering, fighting and quarreling among themselves and being critical with one another, he said that it was a philosophy of life that is characteristic of the unregenerate mind and that it is a major ingredient of worldliness.
Instead of a climate of peace necessary for the production of righteousness, James’ readers were living in an atmosphere that was anything but peaceful. And he boldly comes out and tells them, “I want you to stop it.”
Most of the time we don’t even see the seriousness of a critical spirit until it has taken a toll on our spiritual lives and robbed us of our peace. We begin to realize that something is completely out of whack in our lives, but we can’t always put a finger on what it is. Different things may lead to a critical spirit. It may be caused by external things around us or it may come from internal thoughts and motives. James’ readers had fallen into the habit of criticizing one another and in verse 11 James says, “Stop speaking against one another.” He crushes any right his readers may have claimed to sit in judgment over others. He rules out the harsh, unkind critical spirit that continually finds fault with others.
A.B. Simpson once said: “I would rather play with forked lightning, or take in hand living wires with their fiery current, than speak a reckless word against any servant of Christ, or idly repeat the slanderous darts which thousands of Christians are hurling on others, to the hurt of their own souls and bodies.”
Do you build people up or tear people down? When you are ready to criticize someone, remember God’s law of love and say something good instead. Saying something beneficial will help cure you of fault finding and increase your ability to obey God’s law of love. When we criticize and condemn each other, we are criticizing and condemning God’s law as well as causing a loss of peace for ourselves.