(The following is a summary of the message that was preached by Michael Larsen on November 11, 2018)
Text: James 4:1-12
One of the keys to having peaceful relationships is avoiding arguments and making judgmental comments about other people. What does James say about “How to Avoid Arguments”? In this passage on how to avoid arguments, he gives us both the causes and the cures -- the reasons for arguments and the remedies.
James 4:1 says “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?” James says that the cause of arguments is conflicting desires. The Bible makes very clear here and other places in Scripture that there are three basic desires we have that cause conflict.
1. THE DESIRE TO HAVE
We want to have things. This is Materialism. James 4:2 says “You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.”
2. THE DESIRE TO FEEL
I want to feel good. I want to be comfortable. I want to have my senses satisfied. James 4:3 says “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
3. THE DESIRE TO BE IMPORTANT
This is pride and popularity.
So, what's the cure?
THE CURE FOR ARGUMENTS IS HUMILITY
James 4:6 & 10 “God ... gives grace to the humble. Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” What is grace? Grace is God's power to change. In the next few verses, James gives four specific actions that need to be taken in order to stop the fighting.
1. GIVE IN TO GOD
James 4:7 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Let God be God in your life. Give Him control. t
2. GET WISE TO SATAN
Be aware; be alert.
3. GROW CLOSER TO GOD
James 4:8 “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” How do you grow closer? By reading the Bible, by going to church, by getting involved in a Bible study.
4. BE WILLING TO ASK FORGIVENESS
James 4:8 “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” Our hands represent our conduct and hearts represent attitudes. James 4:9 “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.”
James says part of maintain peaceful relationships and avoiding arguments is not slandering people. James 4:11-12 says “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?” James says that by judging other people we are putting ourselves in God’s place. Anytime I judge you, anytime you judge me, we're playing at being God. It's only God's responsibility to judge other people.
I want us to look at first at the reasons we judge other people. Then we’ll answer the questions: Why shouldn't we judge? When is it wrong to judge other people? and How do you break the habit of judging other people? You'll be a lot happier if you learn how to deal with this issue.
I. THE REASONS WE JUDGE OTHER PEOPLE
Paul says that one of the reasons we tend to judge other people is to excuse our own faults. Romans 2:3 says “So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them, and yet do the same thing, do you think you will escape God's judgment?”
A second reason that we tend to judge other people is it appeals to our pride.
II. WHY SHOULDN’T WE JUDGE OTHERS?
James gives us three reasons why we shouldn't judge other people.
1. It's unchristian.
(v. 11) “Brothers, do not slander one another... anyone who speaks against his brother or judges his brother speaks against the law.”
James 4:7 “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” The word “devil” means slanderer. The Bible calls Satan the accuser of Christians. He's the slanderer of Christians.
2. It's unloving.
James 2:8 “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing right.”
3. It's unjustified.(v.12) “There's only one lawgiver and one judge.”
III. WHEN IS IT WRONG TO JUDGE OTHERS?
There are seven places in Scripture where it says it is wrong to judge.
1. Romans 2:1-3 “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment?”
2. Matthew 7:3-5 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.”
3. John 7:24 “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.”
4. John 7:51 “Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to find out what he is doing?”
5. Colossians 2:16 “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.”
6. James 4:11 “Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it.”
7. 1 Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”
IV. HOW DO YOU BREAK THE HABIT OF JUDGING OTHERS?
1. Remember that I'll be judged by the same standards that I use to judge other people. Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others.”
2. Remember that each of us is accountable to God. Romans 14:12-13 “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way.”
3. Remember how much God has been merciful to me. James 2:13 “Mercy triumphs over judgment.” There is a principle greater than criticism. It's the principle of forgiveness. The principle of mercy. Jesus said, “"Blessed are the merciful.” The Bible says we're to be merciful because God has given us so much mercy. The reason why I have to be patient with you is because God is patient with me. None of us get what we deserve. If we did, we wouldn't be here. It's all by
God's grace. If God's been gracious with us, then we need to be gracious with others. The most forgiving person is the most forgiven person. Once you've fallen, made mistakes, realized it and faced up to it, you're a lot more sympathetic, open and forgiving and loving with other people. So stop being critical and judgmental of others.