JAMES 4:11-17



It is often necessary to have someone in charge.  In the family the job of being in charge has been given to the husband, to lovingly lead his family.  He is responsible to lead and his family is responsible to follow. Ephesians 5:22-25, Ephesians 6:4


At work there are bosses who are over you whose directions you are to follow. They are responsible and so are you. Colossians 3:22


In the church there will be people in charge.  Their leadership is to be followed. They are responsible and so are you. Hebrews 13:17


We return to our series in James entitled Faith Works.    This week we find that Faith Works Responsibly.   





These are two areas in which we like to help God out.

We like to evaluate or judge people.

We like to make our own plans.

We want to help, or worse, take over for God in these areas, and God does not need our help.




Vs. 11 – James warns against speaking evil against those who are to be our nearest and dearest companions, our brothers and sisters in Christ. Those who have been saved the same way you have, the ones who have the same Savior, the same heavenly Father, the same blessed hope.


It is the sin that is called “backbiting” elsewhere in the Word of God.


The words He that speaketh imply that the criticism and the judging are habitual. This is something which the person does on a continual basis.


The words speak evil hint that we become “the prosecutor” of our brother or sister. We are the district attorney bring the charges. The word judge means that we pass judgment, and this judgment is a judgment of condemnation.


Is James finding fault with Christians who seek to correct those of us who fail or sin?  No, not at all!

I thank God for those who have corrected me Biblically from time to time. Galatians 6:1


Is James finding fault with church discipline?  No!  There is a prescribed plan for church discipline that allows a person to repent privately before he is exposed publicly. Matthew 18:15-17


What James is condemning is the criticism of other Christians, the evaluation of their motives, and the quality of their work.   


I think that James is condemning a malicious attitude that leads to a malicious tongue!


We have all done this!

We will say to someone else, “So and so shouldn’t have done that”, or “so and shouldn’t have said that”.

We will say to someone “And do you know why she did that or said that”?  And we will condemn what we feel is their motive.   


Why is judging so wrong?

According to Verse 11, the person who speaks evil and judges is speaking evil of and judging God’s law.

What law is being evil spoken of and judged?

It is the royal law of love. James 2:8


James 2:12 mentions another law, the law of liberty.

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.


This law of liberty makes me free to serve God and to live a righteous life before Him. If my brother in Christ has that same liberty, I must be careful not to bring my brother under my own rules and regulations. A lot of what we condemn in other Christians is not their sin, but the fact that they don’t act the way I act or think the way I think.


Notice the end of this verse. When I start to criticize I stop being a doer of the law, which is to love my neighbor as myself, and I start becoming a judge of the law, trying to place myself above God’s law.


Vs. 12 – There is only one law giver. That is God.

There, is therefore only one true judge. That is God.

Let’s let God do the judging.

He won’t miss a thing in you or me, or in anyone else.


If a brother or sister sins, pray for them.

If the Lord shows you to do so, go to that brother or sister and talk to him or her privately about the matter in a spirit of love. Otherwise remain silent!





We are being irresponsible when we judge others.

We are being irresponsible when we plan for ourselves without taking God into consideration.   


Vs. 13 – God is not saying that we should make no plans at all.   


In this verse James is talking about the person who makes plans apart from God.

He says, “I’M going to such and such a city, and I will be there for a year and I will buy and I will sell, and I will make a bundle.”


What God wants is not considered.

What God can do to alter these plans is not considered.


Vs. 16 – Notice what such a person is doing.

He is rejoicing in his own bragging.

He’s building himself up to be something.


Why is this unwise?


Vs. 14 – Your life is like a vapor that appears for a little while and then it is gone.


Have you ever watched a tea kettle boil?

When the kettle whistles, how long does the steam last?

It doesn’t last long. It comes out into the air and disappears.


Our life spans are like that vapor.

Our life span is so very brief in relation to time and eternity.

Even the longest of life spans, say a 110 years, is very, very short. Job 7:6, Psalm 39:4-5, Psalm 144:4


Vs. 14 – There is a truth here that we should never forget.   

James 4:14 - Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.


Perhaps you have been saving the last part of your life as a time for God.  Don’t delay serving God while you can.


Christian, as you make your plans…

As you think about the future…

As you consider what you are doing now,

Don’t say:

I’ll study the Bible someday

I’ll witness someday.

I’ll learn to pray someday.

If your life is going to count for God, it has to start counting now!


If you feel the nudge of God, or just plain know what God wants you to do, just go ahead and do it. Ephesians 5:15-17  


Vs. 15 – Our attitude in our plans should always be, “If the Lord will.”


We should make our plans asking God to guide us.

We should make our plans totally yielding them to God.

We should make our plans while studying God’s Word.

We should make our plans looking prayerfully at the circumstances.

We should make our plans realizing that God has every right to, and could, change them.


Does this mean that every time I make plans I need to add the words “Lord willing” to them?

Not necessarily. I can have the attitude of “Lord willing” without saying the words.


We have learned two truths this evening:




What should motivate you to watch what you say about people?


What should motivate you to allow God to guide your plans?

What should motivate you to do whatever else you know that you should do?


Vs. 17 – If you know what to do, and don’t do it, it is sin!


If you know what you should do, the best thing to do is to do it!