The Berean Expositor
Volume 50 - Page 79 of 185
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The Epistle of James.
pp. 16 - 19
James now calls the Hebrew believers, who were failing so much, to amend their ways:
"Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts ye double minded. Be
afflicted, and moan and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to
heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He shall exalt you" (4: 8-10,
The joy and laughter that the writer refers to here is the shallow and empty frivolity of
the darkened world and is not to be confused with the abiding joy of the Lord which can
be the believer's precious possession at all times. James continues:
"Speak not one against another, brethren. He that speaketh against a brother, or
judgeth his brother, speaketh against the law, and judgeth the law; but if thou judgeth the
law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. One only is the law giver and judge, even
He Who is able to save and to destroy: but who art thou that judgest thy neighbour?"
(James 4: 11, 12, R.V.).
James adopt the same attitude as the Apostle Paul on the question of unfair criticism
of other brothers in Christ (Rom. 14: 4, 9, 10-13). The only persons we are allowed to
strictly judge are ourselves, "for if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged"
(I Cor. 11: 31), but of course this is not so attractive to the flesh as criticizing other
people! The Greek katalaleite means literally "to talk against another" and in later Greek
had the significance of talking against others behind their backs and is used in this sense
by the Septuagint version of  Psa. 101: 5  "Whoso privily (privately) slandereth his
neighbour" and also in Psa. 50: 20. Tyndale renders the word in James "back bite", and
the adjectival form is found in Rom. 1: 30, translated `back biters' in the A.V. and R.V.
Such conduct is really a subtle form of self-exaltation, because those who indulge in it
think they are very much better people than those they are criticizing. Not only this, but
as James reminds us, they assume the position of judge, a role that belongs to God only.
This sad human weakness is ages old, for the O.T. also deals with it.  Lev. 19: 16
reads, "thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people" and verse 18:
"thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou
shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD".
As Paul reminded the superior Jew "wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest
thyself" (Rom. 2: 1).  No wonder James asks "who art thou that judgest another?"
(James 4: 12).
In the next paragraph, the writer seems to have in mind traveling traders, probably Jews:
"Go to now, ye that say, today or tomorrow we will go into this city, and spend a year
there, and trade, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow"
(James 4: 13, 14, R.V.).