Intro: Although it is not always easy to hear, I do appreciate honest character and ministry feedback. In seminary, we were taught to receive instruction from those who were “seasoned” in leadership, as well as welcome feedback from those who were experiencing our leadership. The challenge comes when we encounter folks who simply do not like us, approve of us, or accept our style of leading things. Sometimes, we are simply not welcome to speak into people’s lives; their hearts are not open to the gifts we may bring.
For the past 13+ years, I have been blessed beyond measure to be in ministry with a group of people who are honest with me as family members, but do not seek to condemn or destroy. Instead, the goal is to encourage and edify. Just for honesty sake, the reason I so value our present spiritual family and those God has placed in my life, is because I have walked painfully in the past with “self-appointed critics.” This does not just happen in ministry, it happens in every area of life. The flesh nature of people just loves to judge others—placing self on the throne in the center of it all expecting he or she knows much more than anyone else.
In our passage today, James is giving encouragement to the Body of Christ—believers. We are all called to be on the field of this world and participating in the events of redemption. There is no room for arrogance. Many times, people feel justified to judge another; yet, they have no idea what it is like to be that person…or lead that ministry…or experience their burdens and infirmities. Satan always comes to bring division and destruction, so he will try to manipulate believers toward arrogance. There is only One who does know the heart of every human being, so let’s invite Christ to be the only Judge and resist the temptation to be a self-appointed critic, ok?
James 4:11-16 NLT 11 My brothers and sisters, do not assault each other with criticism. If you decide your job is to accuse and judge another believer, then you are a self-appointed critic and judge of the law; if so, then you are no longer a doer of the law and subject to its rule; you stand over it as a judge. 12 Know this—there is One who stands supreme as Judge and Lawgiver. He alone is able to save and to destroy, so who are you to step in and try to judge another?
13 Listen carefully, those of you who make your plans and say, “We are traveling to this city in the next few days. We’ll stay there for one year while our business explodes and revenue is up.” 14 The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another. 15 It would be best to say, “If it is the Lord’s will and we live long enough, we hope to do this project or pursue that dream.” 16 But your current speech indicates an arrogance that does not acknowledge the One who controls the universe, and this kind of big talking is the epitome of evil.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the character check we have been given today in our passage. Help us to remain humble and loving with others. Correct us when we need to stop talking before being unrighteously critical. We bow to you and choose to love others as you love us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.