Sermon for Sunday June 10th, 2012

Do Not Slander One Another by Steve Shepherd

James 4:11-4:12

INTRO.- ILL.- Who said, “Read my lips. No new taxes”? "Read my lips: no new taxes" is the famous phrase spoken by then presidential candidate George H. W. Bush at the 1988 Republican National Convention as he accepted the nomination on August 18th. Written by speechwriter Peggy Noonan, the line was the most prominent sound bite from the speech.

ILL.- What part of “no” do you not understand? Who said those words? We don’t know for sure. This phrase has been repeated or quoted thousands of times. Or variations of it.

ILL.- Popular country music song, written by Wayne Perry and Gerald Smith, and recorded by Lorrie Morgan:

What part of no don’t you understand?
To put it plain and simple
I’m not into one night stands
I’ll be glad to explain it
If it’s too hard to comprehend
So tell me what part of no
Don’t you understand?

Our text could say, “what part of “do not” do you not understand?”

Do not slander. What is slandering? It can be called many things such as: backstabbing, mud-slinging, bad-mouthing, and it could also include condemning someone. Whatever it is, it doesn’t sound good from the pages of scripture.

ILL.- William Cowper (English poet) said, “He that slanders me paints me blacker than I am, and he that flatters me, whiter. They both daub me, and when I look in the mirror of conscience, I see myself disguised by both.” Interesting.

Another way to look at slander is this:

ILL.- When a newspaper published a false and misleading account about a certain man, the man went to Dr. Edward Everett (American politician and educator from MASS) to ask what action Everett would recommend. After listening patiently to the man’s complaints, Everett said, “My dear sir, do nothing about it. Half the people who buy that paper never saw the article about you. Half the people who did see it failed to read. Half the people who did read it failed to understand it. Half of those who did understand it know you and refused to believe it. Half of those who believed it were people of no consequence anyway.” GOOD ANSWER, I WOULD SAY.

Most of the time slander means little except to the person who spreads it!

PROP.- James tells us why we must not slander one another.
1- Slandering makes you a judge of others
2- Slandering makes you above the law
3- Slandering makes you above the lawgiver


11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him...

ILL.- It is said that the Sioux Indians used to make this prayer, “Great Spirit, help me never to judge another until I have walked two weeks in his moccasins.”

There may be something to that little prayer. It’s the idea, of course, that we really never know what a person is going through in life and if we ever had the opportunity to live their life for two weeks perhaps we wouldn’t be so quick to judge them or be critical toward them.

Many people are quick to make statements about others and they may not have any basis at all for what they say.

ILL.- Let me give you an example. Elaine and I watched the St. Louis Cardinals a lot last year. She called their manager, Tony La Russa, “Smiley.” Do you know why? She seldom ever sees him smile, so obviously she’s been sarcastic. Of course, there may be a very good reason why he doesn’t smile very often, that is, when his team isn’t winning.

And it’s easy for us to judge him just by the fact that they show him on TV in dugout, looking depressed. In real life or life outside the ball park he may be a great guy! But this is the way we tend to judge people without even really knowing them.

ILL.- Here’s another example. There is a young lady that works in the lunch room at the Craighead Nursing Center. I call her “Red.” Do you know why? Yes, she’s redheaded and I figure she’s probably hot-headed as well. Now you know as well as I do that’s not a fair judgment at all. It’s strictly based on the fact that she’s a redheaded gal.

Again, this is the way we tend to judge others. We may see one little side of them and automatically assume something about them which may not be true at all.

ILL.- Paulo Coelho (Brazilian novelist): “We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.”

We really know only our own path. And often we think ours is the only way to go or live and this is why we tend to judge others. We may always think we’re always right. And people who think they are always right or always have the right answers will always judge others critically.

Matthew 7:1-5 1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “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? 4 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? 5 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.

Beware of slandering others. This means you are always judging others and Jesus said clearly that’s bad. Whatever you dish out is what you’ll receive, only it may be a worse judgment.


11 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.

ILL.- Rod Blagojevich, ex-governor of Illinois and more commonly known at “Blago" served as the 40th Governor of Illinois from 2003 to 2009. Blagojevich was arrested on federal corruption charges including conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery December 9, 2008. As a result, on January 9, 2009, the Illinois House of Representatives voted to impeach Blagojevich by a 114–1 vote for corruption and misconduct in office, the first time such an action has been taken against a governor of Illinois, making him the second state official in Illinois history to be impeached.

The Illinois State Senate unanimously found him guilty of the charges of impeachment, and he was removed from office on January 29, 2009. In a separate, also unanimous vote, Blagojevich was banned for life from holding public office in the State of Illinois.

On August 17, 2010 Blagojevich was found guilty of lying to the FBI; on June 27, 2011, Blagojevich was found guilty on 17 of 20 counts presented during his retrial.

This sounds very much like Blago is a man who thought and acted like he was above the law, that he could do whatever he wanted and get away with it.

Obviously, Blago is not the first person in the political world to act like he was above the law. People do this all the time. Some get away with it and some don’t. Some go to jail, but there is something worse than going to jail. It’s going before the God of the universe without the blood of Jesus as a sacrifice for your sins! It’s bad to suffer in this life but it’s far worse to suffer separation from God in the next life!

Do we ever take the law into our own hands? Yes, we do. Sometimes we do it blatantly and sometimes we do it ignorantly.

ILL.- One time many years ago I was driving home from a funeral visitation/viewing. It was 5 or 6 in the evening and I was in a hurry to get home and lived probably 20 miles away. It was a two-lane highway with 55 mph speed limit and I was not driving 55 mph. In fact, I topped a hill a met a highway patrolman. Needless to say, he quickly turned around and turned on his lights for me to pull over, which I promptly did.

When I topped that hill I was driving about 70 mph. I was caught red-handed. There was no way out. Was I guilty? Yes. Was it an accidental mistake? Was I not aware of how fast I was driving? No, I knew very well I was speeding. I just didn’t think I’d meet a highway patrol officer on that road. Was that taking the law into my own hands? YES. And it was like I was above the law. I could do whatever I wanted. WRONG.

What happened? Wouldn’t you like to know!!! I told the officer who I was and where I had been and that I was in a hurry to get home. And that was the truth.

And Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” !!! (John 8:32). I told the truth but did the truth set me free? Well, on this occasion it did. That patrolman said, “Well, it’s nice night and I’m in a good mood. I’m not going to give you a ticket but slow down.”

Obviously, I took the words of Jesus out of context. Just because we tell the truth it doesn’t always mean we are going to be set free, depending on the circumstances. I’ve told the truth before and got chastised for it, haven’t you? It depends with whom you are dealing, mom and dad, or otherwise.

The point of this text is when we slander others we are taking the law into our own hands and this makes us above the law and that is wrong!

11 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.


12 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?

ILL.- Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (1841-1935) is one of the great figures in United States legal history and a key intellectual figure in the development of classical contract theory. Following military service in the Civil War, he attended Harvard Law School. After giving a famous series of lectures published as The Common Law, he joined the Harvard Law School for a short time and then served for twenty years on the Supreme Judicial Court of Mass.

President Theodore Roosevelt appointed him to the United States Supreme Court on which he served as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court until his retirement in 1932.

Here are some of his famous quotes:
- A child’s education should begin at least one hundred years before he is born.
- A man is usually more careful of his money than of his principles.
- A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.
- The greatest act of faith is when a man understands he is not God.
- The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving.
- To be 70 years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be 40 years old.
- Young man, the secret of my success is that an early age I discovered that I was not God.

Oliver Wendell Holmes sounds like he was a very bright and insightful man. How would you have liked to challenge him in a courtroom? Not sure I would.

And then, of course, there is JUDGE JUDY. The TV court judge who rules her courtroom like she is God! And in her court you don’t speak unless spoken to and even then you’d better be careful what you say! Judge Judy is always or so she thinks. No one gets the upper hand with Judge Judy!

No matter how intelligent or insightful any human judge is, they are still human and subject to error. But there is one Judge who is always right about everything, and of course, He is the Judge of the Universe!

We know that the Judge of the Universe is all-wise, all-powerful, eternal, and ever-present! There is none like him and no one puts anything over on God! Not even the devil! And certainly not humans.

And yet, whenever we slander our fellow human beings we are saying that we are bigger and better than God!

12 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?

There is only one lawgiver and Judge. There is only one God who can save or destroy. And when we slander others we are in essence condemning them or destroying them and we have no right to do that. THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD and He doesn’t sit in any courtroom on planet earth. Nor in any church!


ILL.- Mark Twin is quoted as saying, “It takes your enemy and your friend, working together to hurt you to the heart; the one to slander you and the other to get the news to you.”

Friend and foe; we all have them, but it’s far better to be a good friend than a bad foe who slanders others.

God has spoken: 11 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.

Steve Shepherd, Jonesboro Christian Church, AR