“Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.” James 4:11
God is very concerned about the way we treat each other as followers of Jesus Christ, including the words we use. We will be opposed and ridiculed in the world, but we are to be supported and encouraged in the church. The Holy Scriptures speak strongly against criticizing or speaking evil of the brethren. Words are powerful tools to edify and encourage, but can also damage and hinder.
As active and sincere Christians, we will have ample opportunities for interaction and even conflict with fellow believers. The more we know the people, the more familiar we will be with their weaknesses and shortcomings. We will not always agree, but we are warned repeatedly not to speak evil of each other. We are not to speak slanderously, maliciously, or critically of others. Critical speakers have done great damage to individual Christians, church families, and even the community at large.
Gossip and slander are powerful and destructive activities. Speaking critically, like any other sin, can become habitual. When one speaks evil of his brother, he is judging the brother and speaking evil of and judging the law. The law tells us, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18). Slandering or gossiping about others is certainly not loving your neighbor. The Bible gives us clear instructions about resolving conflicts with fellow Christians. If someone has sinned against us or wronged us, or if he is overtaken in a fault, we are to go to him and seek to get the situation resolved. The wrong thing to do is to criticize or slander him. Just because someone disagrees with us does not make him a candidate for verbal assault. Our backgrounds differ as well as our spiritual gifts and burdens, and our personalities are not alike. There will be ample opportunities for disagreement, but we are forbidden to speak evil of each other.
God’s Word gives us more positive and productive options as far as our words are concerned. We are told to encourage each other, edify one another, and exhort one another. This is quite different from speaking evil of each other. Instead of criticizing, make a genuine effort to love others as God commands.