In the day of social media, everyone has a soapbox to stand on. It has become commonplace to criticize people who have a different opinion than you, yet at what cost?
Our humanity is on the verge of being seared. The words we use can either create unity or disunity. Faith in God is not something to be compartmentalized but to influence every fiber of our being.
In James 4:11-12, James addresses the dangers of slandering and judging others. Slandering is to speak critically and condemning about another person. Slandering places labels on others that box people into a permanent category.
Placing labels on people doesn’t help them overcome their habits or hang-ups but magnifies them and diminishes hope. By magnifying their weaknesses, we discourage all possibility of change.
We need to speak life over others and encouraging them to overcome and be better.
Paired with slandering is the warning of judging one another. Slandering and judging counteract mercy and grace.
The word judgment translates from the word “Krino.” It’s to separate and distinguish between good and evil. We are unqualified to make such judgments.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9
Only God is qualified to judge because he is impartial, pure, and without sin and sees the thoughts and motives of a man’s heart.
James’ gives further instructions in James 4:13-17, addressing the dangers presuming about tomorrow. The emphasis in these two passages is in leaving God out of the equation.
The Dangers in Boasting About Tomorrow
#1 Not submitting to the rule of God.
In an interview years ago, actor Stephen Baldwin was asked about his faith in Jesus, and he said, “I had spent my life prior to knowing God doing my own thing but now, ‘my life is His life to do whatever He wants.’”
Even Jesus said, I have not come to do my will but the will of the one who sent me. To be a follower of Jesus means we submit to His rule. Are your future plans submitted to God?
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3
#2 Planning for tomorrow at the expense of today.
The Bible doesn’t discourage planning ahead (rather the opposite) but emphasizes the importance of the “now.”
- Today is the day of salvation, 2 Corinthians 6:2.
- Today if you hear his voice… obey, Hebrews 3:15.
There is life to be lived today, right now. God wants you to give the most attention to the present. Make the most of this moment!
- Are there relationships that need to be reconciled?
- Is there forgiveness that needs to be given?
- Are there wrongs that need to be made right?
#3 Do your plans consider the “God-factor.”
James touched on this when he discussed having wisdom that neglects the supernatural in chapter 3.
If you can accomplish your plans without prayer or God, then they are too small!
Dreams are one way God helps us to see what we are capable of when we are submitted to His rule in our life.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
The path between where we are and where we are headed is ordered by God. We should make plans but remember it’s God who navigates our steps.
In his final warning in James 5:1-6, James reserves some of his harshest words for the wealthy. The pursuit of riches tends to distort our perspective on people and life, overvaluing money and undervaluing people.
Jesus even said, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:23
It’s okay to have money; it’s not okay for money to have you. (1 Timothy 6:10)
When we allow the love for money to drive us, we wander from the good we are to do and be and abandon the faith.
Matthew 6:19-21 instructs us to store up treasures in heaven! Those who make the pursuit of wealth on earth their purpose in life neglect storing up treasures in heaven.
How do we store up treasures in heaven? Obedience to God is how we store treasures in heaven that cannot be stolen.
As followers of Jesus, we have been given a different standard to live by, a lifestyle that promotes contentment and produces peace.
- Are you talking about others and judging them?
- Are you criticizing those in authority? Even if you’re right, you’re in the wrong. (1 Timothy 2:2)
- Are you focusing so much on tomorrow that you are not making the most of today?
- Are you pursuing wealth on earth, at any cost?
Allow God to be the center of your life, knowing that His plans and intentions are for your well-being, to prosper you and to give you hope and a future! (Jeremiah 29:11)