When we judge inappropriately, we actually turn the spotlight away from others and places it full
force onto us. Every time we are wrongly critical, falsely condemning, legalistic and judgmental, we are saying, “My way is better than God’s way!” But God always has the last word. His judgment, unlike ours, is trustworthy and will always, in every situation, be utterly righteous..
Open: Have you either caused or been a victim of an attack of gossip, slander, or condescending remarks? How did you feel? What did it do to you or the other person? What did you learn?
Read: James 4; Leviticus 19:16-18; Matthew 7:1-5; 15:18-19; 1 Corinthians 6:2
1. In what ways do you see slander as a major problem in our world today? Is judgment good or bad? In what ways do we need to judge? In what ways do our judgments tend to go wrong? Where is the line between being biblically discerning versus being overly critical? If you confront someone in sin or error and he says, “You’re being judgmental,” how would you respond?
2. What caused James’ audience to slander? Why is slander such a struggle in our communities and churches today? Have you ever heard the phrase, “Judgment is easier than mercy”? What does this statement mean? Is it true?
3. James uses the law as proof that slander is wrong. How do both the Old Testament Law and the Law of Love demonstrate the faultiness of slander? What happens when we take the place of God as the judge?
4. How are these negative judgments and slander actually against yourself? What do false allegations, gossip, and slander do to the church? How is this attractive to other Christians or to non-Christians? What do these behaviors really do to the Kingdom of God?
5. What can you do to help prevent yourself from being judgmental, critical, comparing others to you or your ideas, gossiping, or crafting the well placed put-down. What steps would help? How can you go to someone privately with constructive criticism in love, and offer gentle, humble criticism and help that would uplift him or her? Pray that you would look at people through the eyes of God.
Pray: Pray that you would be careful to know when, where, and how to have healthy conversations about others.
Memorize/Meditate: 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. James 4:11