When we think someone’s wrong it’s tempting to engage others in deciding they deserve to be punished. It’s a claim to know the heart and motive, the background and circumstances of another’s choices.
But God says we’re not to speak evil of each other, for this is speaking evil of the Law and judging the Law (Ja 4:11); it’s putting ourselves above the Law, usurping the place of the Lawgiver. (Ja 4:12)
It’s one thing to identify an act as sinful, contrary to God’s Law (1Jn 3:4), but declaring someone to be evil, that they’re willfully alienating themselves from God and at enmity with Him, is another matter. This is actually deciding the Law itself is contrary to God, since it tells us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Le 19:18), which we aren’t as we engage in condemnation.
If we shouldn’t speak so about others, we shouldn’t be thinking this way either. Rather, in humility, we should be giving them the benefit of the doubt, esteeming others better than ourselves. (Php 2:3)
Only God can judge the heart; we must leave this work to Him. (Ps 119:84) He doesn’t need our help. God is just, and perfectly so; He’ll do just fine, all by Himself.
2 thoughts on “Speak Not Evil”
Sin and evil are not the same thing. Sin is violating God’s law; evil is an inclination to be alienated from God. Sins of ignorance are not necessarily expressing enmity against God.
Placing myself above the Law is saying the Law doesn’t apply to me, so I feel safe looking down on others. It’s putting others under the microscope, thinking I’ll never be there. It’s selectively applying laws to measure others where I feel I measure up.