Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Today in the Word! We are thankful for you. Most of us look forward to a special dinner with our loved ones, but it can sometimes be stressful. Tensions flare when a sensitive subject is discussed. Instead of thankful and positive words, the holiday gathering can dissolve into disagreement.
James, the half-brother of Jesus, would have been present at the dinner table with his half-brother, Jesus. Here James writes to the church (“brothers and sisters”), challenging them to consider their words toward one another (v. 11). The word for “slander” suggests complaining to others to destroy a person’s reputation. James had been guilty of doing that toward Jesus. We don’t know if it was James specifically mocking Jesus in John 7:1–4, but he was present and agreed with what was being said.
Years after his conversion to Christ, James became a new man with a new plan. Instead of speaking evil against Jesus, he became Jesus’ biggest advocate. James also taught a great deal about the power of words (see James 3:3–12), and in chapter 4 he focuses on the way we use words against those within the family of
Christ. In chapter 3, verse 10, he wrote, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been in made in God’s likeness....My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
In chapter 4, James says that when we speak “against a brother or sister” we speak against the law (v. 11). Which law? Here he refers to Christ’s command to love one another (Matt. 22:39). We are not to speak to one another or about one another in anger, but to submit ourselves first to God and to the law of love.
>> Today as you celebrate Thanksgiving, consider the power of your words. Make it your goal to use your words to say something positive and life-giving to each person in your family.
Forgive us for speaking harshly of others. Convict us when we open our mouths to gossip or condemn. Instead, teach us to take our grievances to You. Help us forgive people who have wronged us, instead of slandering them.