SOAP Devotional 2014-03-12
Scripture – Observation – Application – Prayer
Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you. God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor? (James 4:11, 12 NLT)
The speaking evil here was dealing with slandering brothers and sisters in The Lord, fellow believers. In particular this passage dealt with Jewish believers who were judging and criticizing other believers for how they either did or did not keep the old Jewish law. James was telling these criticizing believers that only God, who gave the law, could judge what of the law applies to believers. God convicts people with personal convictions regarding the law and they must not place those convictions on others,
This is another passage that is often misquoted and misapplied. Usually it is done to defend someone's own right to continue in sin without a brother correcting them. That is not what this passage refers to. It does say that we must not judge others on their convictions to keep things from the old Jewish law, circumcision, etc. that is God's place alone. Do not confuse “judgement” with “discernment”. We are told to be careful not to be drawn into false teaching or to be drawn into worldly living. Discerning these things and alerting the brethren to such things is not judging, but rather discernment. It is right to alert others and keep them from sin.
Father, do not let me judge people because they have personal convictions to do things that you have told them to do. But help me to always discern when others are drawn into loving this world more than you, but in those cases, let me be discreet on helping others to return to you rather than following their own desires. Do not let me speak evil of even those who may currently be in error.