James paints an unflattering picture of the human tongue. “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:6-8 NKJV) Sins of the tongue may well be the common denominator in mankind’s failing before God. The dichotomy of blessing and cursing originating from the same source is unnatural and unholy. The perfect man has complete control over the tongue. (James 3:2) The man who believes himself religious without control of the tongue deceives himself. (James 1:26)
The temptation to condemn others is strong whether the armchair quarterback, the backseat driver, or the immature Christian. “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. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” (James 4:11-12 NKJV) You are a spectator, not the quarterback. You are a passenger, not the driver. You are created in God’s image, but you are not God!
Setting aside matters of doctrine, Paul questions the motives of those who would condemn others based on matters of personal judgment. “But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” (Romans 14:10-14 NKJV) Raw criticism and harsh judgment causes harm in both matters of law and in matters of conscience.
So, what’s the problem? The problem is the standard we use. “For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12 NKJV) Our opinions, behaviors and scruples are not acceptable to God as a basis for judging others. Only His Word will suffice. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” (James 1:22-25 NKJV)