James, the half-brother of Jesus wrote a book of life application. He covers the waterfront, but talks a lot about our words and thoughts. I was thinking and writing about dealing with difficult people this week and realized that I was both grumbling and judging, my thoughts were not great. He speaks about the tongue that can burn down forests, curse and boast. In James 1:19 he says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” He has a lot more to say about anger and humility and particularly judging. “If anyone speaks, he shall do it as one speaking the very words of God” (James 4:12). Speaking of that Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-2, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” The Apostle Paul tells the Corinthians after saying that he doesn’t worry about other people judging him because, “It is the Lord who judges me” (1Corinthians 4:3). He tells them and us to just wait for the Lord, for He will expose all dark thoughts. Well the Lord has some pretty tough words for me and anyone else who ventures into these attributes. “There are six things that God hates, seven that are detestable to Him: haughty eyes and a lying tongue…a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs dissension among brothers” (Proverbs 6:16,19). Well this is talking about attitude and not a good one toward others. God uncovers everything, and for it we must give an account. “Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way” (Romans 14:13). He is speaking about doctrine, but this applies to all speech.
God wants us to be just, “For the Lord loves the just” (Psalm 37:28). You see, judging is sin, and so is grumbling about others and thinking bad thoughts. I admit I do it all the time. In fact this morning in my devotional time I looked up these verses and also made a list of those people I tend to judge, because I have trouble with them. Now maybe, just maybe, I am the problem. So what do we do? Start with confession. “For if we confess our sin, He who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Now that is good news. I am also reminded of the verse that is thought to be the chaplain’s verse or mantra about what the Lord requires of you. “To do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NKJV).
Yes, God has lots of admonitions on how we should act. But first believe and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Then you will be filled with the fruit of the Spirit, which is, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23). I also find Colossians 3 instructive. “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…with gratitude in your hearts for God” (Colossians 3:12-16).
Not easy teachings, but essential for living godly lives. Perhaps as a parting thought from John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Enough said.