All of us with access to Social media, are well aware that some pretty mean and ugly things are seen on our walls. One can only imagine the stuff that is zipped under the radar or even stated in our personal circle of friends! We have become a society that thrives on the negative attributes, faults, and failures of others.
Some time ago…I posted about a group of men who nearly always met up at a certain table each day; apparently a tradition that had been going on for years. A young couple eating at a nearby table enjoyed watching and listening to them noisily debate about daily current events and catch up with each other. They seemed to have great camaraderie. When one would leave another would come sauntering into their loose knit lunch club until it was time for them to get back to work.
On one particular day the couple was being pretty attentive to them when one man left. As soon as he was out of earshot they began to have him for lunch. Evidently he was not well liked but from the way they acted when he was there no one would have known. The couple was so surprised. Did they always do that to whoever was not present? After this event…they said that they would never look upon that group of men the same way. Ever!
They also began to think; did that ever happened to them after they left a group? Worse still, had they ever been guilty of it themselves? Unfortunately, they admitted they had.
In James 4:11 ESV we are told…. 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. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. This verse returns to the main sin condemned by James—the sin of the tongue. Here evil speaking is put in an awful light. He says to speak evil of a brother is to be his judge, and that is the same as speaking evil of the law, and judging the law. This is putting oneself over the Lord Himself, who is the one lawgiver and judge.
No doubt there is a great deal of harsh speaking about and to one another. Too much of our speech is overly critical, and prone to finding fault. Sadly, we still find this uncharitable spirit very prevalent today among those in the church body.
Evil speaking helps no one…..some seem to think that by speaking evil of others they raise themselves in the opinion of those who listen to them. This is never so. No one likes a super critical, fault finding person, and it is sure to turn back on one’s own head in time. To speak evil helps no one, but definitely injures three people: the speaker, the one spoken to, and the one spoken of.
All men are fallible —none are perfect; so, it is possible to find fault with any man/woman, if one is looking for fault. Great men and women of God have been criticized for the silliest things; they way they dress, for the way they pronounce a word; being too nice, and even the way they wave their arm or even hold their Bible. To speak evil of a servant of the Lord is serious.
I’m sure that you aren’t suprised…they spoke evil of the best they spoke evil of Paul. The devil spoke evil of God in Genesis 3. They spoke evil of Christ, too. They said, “This man received sinners, and eateth with them” (Luke 15:2). The Pharisees called Him a sinner in John 9:24. So, do not be surprised if some speak evil of you and I. It is not pleasant to experience, but there is some consolation in knowing that many far better than us, experienced it, too.
There are many ways to speak evil of others intentionally or unintentionally:
False accusation The worst form of evil speaking is the willful false accusation, the spreading abroad of a plain lie.
Exaggeration A brother has a fault. Let us be careful not to make it worse than it is. There is a danger, if a brother falls into something, of picturing him as being habitual in it. Example: If a man takes a drink, does that mean that he is a drunkard? No.
Real faults If a brother has real faults, these need not be repeated or broadcast. “Love shall cover the multitude of sins”(1 Pet. 4:8).
We all have faults of our own. You know the old adage, “A man living in a glass house should not throw stones.” If we have not been severe on ourselves, we have no right to be severe on others. Some speak evil of others in order to ease their conscience concerning their own stuff….of which one would be talking about the brother/sister in Christ.
Then there is Mock sympathy…… this is a very sinister way of speaking evil. It is to profess great sympathy for the erring person. “Poor sister so-and-so, she fell into this terrible sin; isn’t it too bad”. This is poison mixed with sweet liquor and served in a golden cup. Nice language, perhaps truth, yet positive disobedience because it is evil speaking.
It is lofty opinions of self that cause us to embark on the path of fault finding. If we can refrain from evil speaking, we have won a great victory. Evil speaking grieves the Spirit (Eph. 4:30). If not laid aside we will not prosper as Christians..(1 Pet. 2:1- 2). Much fruit in God’s garden has been choked out by that awful weed, evil speaking.
He that speaks evil of his brother judgeth his brother, and the Lord Jesus says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged”
If it is your choice to pass judgment on someone, be very careful as to it all. Don’t be hard or uncharitable. Don’t try to judge a persons motives. We cannot look into their heart. Let us take the most charitable view possible, and give the judged the benefit of the doubt. If the act is positively known or not, let us refuse to pass judgment.
To speak evil of a brother is to put oneself above God; to put oneself on His judgment seat. Such a one must think himself superior. He is not a humble man, who so exalts himself. Remember the old saying, “What goes up must come down” . Are we all Fallible/Guilty of sin? Yes, we All are!