Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge. –James 4:11
Do not speak evil of one another. James doesn’t qualify this statement, does he? He doesn’t say, “don’t speak evil of another unless it’s true”, or “don’t speak evil of one another except when the person deserves it”. No, James, through divine inspiration, says DO NOT speak evil of one another, brethren. Period. How often do we speak words about another that we should not and then try our best to justify it? How about when we preface such words with, “now I’m not gossiping”, as if by saying it’s not gossip will somehow make it so?
So what exactly is “speaking evil”? It includes any manner of ill talk. I find that a good litmus test is to stop and think about whether you would want the person you are speaking about to know what you are saying, or if you would be happy if someone were saying the same kinds of things about you.
Scripture has much to say about the subject. In Proverbs we learn what a backbiting tongue brings forth:
The north wind brings forth rain, and a backbiting tongue an angry countenance. -Proverbs 25:23
In both I Timothy and II Thessalonians we learn of those who were speaking things they should not have been:
And besides they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.-I Timothy 5:13
For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.-II Thessalonians 3:11
Peter reinforces the thought in James as he instructs us not to be busybodies:
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, and evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters.-I Peter 4:15
We’ve all heard the old adage: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. There is not one person who doesn’t know that statement is false. Words can and do cause much damage, especially when directed at a brother or sister in Christ. They take seconds to say, but the damage can last a very long time. Please stop and consider your words.
To speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing humility to all men.-Titus 3:2
Amy is the wife of one of the minsters at the Hiram Church of Christ and currently teach the teen girls there. They have no children yet, so she is very thankful for the opportunity to share God's Word with the children of others.