Speaking Evil of Another

Are you critical of your brother or sister in Christ?  They are not like you.  Perhaps they understand things differently than you do.  Perhaps they say things you think they shouldn’t say or do things you think they shouldn’t do.  Or maybe they don’t do the things you think they should do.  It is easy to see their faults.  Why do they act the way that they do?  Maybe you even question that they are true Christians.  Do you share your feelings about your brother or sister in Christ with someone else?  Do you speak evil of them?  Here is what James wrote about this situation.  James 4:11-12 “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren.  He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.  There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?”

The first problem could be that you are judging your fellow Christian.  Jesus warned about this in Matthew 7:1-5 “Judge not, that you be not judged.  For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.  And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”  Jesus says that the way that you judge someone else is how you will be judged.  If you are critical and condemning of another, that is how you will be judged.  Then Jesus says that you can be a hypocrite in your judging.  You see a small problem in the life of your brother while you have a big problem in your life; you need to correct the problems in your life before you can help your brother with his small problems.  Or maybe you have the same fault as your brother, but you just can’t see it.  Romans 2:1-6 “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.  But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.  And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?  Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?  But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’.”  I encourage you to refrain from judging your brother.  Romans 14:10 “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”  Romans 14:4 “Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.”

The second problem may be that you do not love your fellow Christian as you should.  Loving your neighbor is the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:39).  Some of the characteristics of love are described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  Note especially that love thinks no evil.  If you love your brother and do not think evil of him, you will not speak evil of him.  The apostle Paul thought that the church in Corinth had problems between the members.  2 Corinthians 12:20 “For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults.” Here is Paul’s exhortation to the Colossians.  Colossians  3:12-14 “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.”

The third problem may be that when you speak evil of another you do not have control of your tongue as you should.  You say things you should not say.  James 3:8-10 “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.  Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”  Here is the exhortation by the apostle Paul.  Ephesians 4:29-32 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.  And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

When you speak evil of your brother or sister in Christ, you can be guilty of judging them.  You need to evaluate whether or not you have the love for them that you should have.  And you need to control your tongue and watch what you say.  My encouragement to you is that you guard against speaking evil of your brother or sister in Christ.