“Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors!” vs 9
When people are in a waiting mode it’s not unusual for them to become irritated with one another. Even when there are no overt expressions of hostility there is likely to be an undercurrent of grumbling, and that’s what James was facing in his little community. He wanted it to stop, and not surprisingly used a tactic familiar to any parent trying to settle down unruly children during the weeks before Christmas. “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town.” Oh, he doesn’t use those words, but the idea is the same. “You better not grumble so you won’t be judged, ‘cause the Judge is standing at the doors.” Unfortunately, James’s words have been taken to heart by countless people through the years. Again and again preachers and others have used this tactic as a way to control the behavior of believers. At best it’s manipulative, and at worst it destroys the gospel, turning it into good news for the righteous, but bad news for sinners, and that wasn’t the message of Jesus. James was right to comment on the behavior of his flock. Their grumbling was horribly destructive. But his choice of words was unfortunate and seems to undermine grace. No wonder Martin Luther considered this letter to be an “epistle of straw.”
Thought for the Day: How should people “get ready to meet their Maker”?