“Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.” (James 5:9, AV)
One of the most difficult things for me in the pastorate was to endure the grumbling of parishioners in the congregation. It did not happen a lot, at least to my knowledge, but it did happen. Some of the grumbling regarded the sermons, especially the hard-hitting ones. Others were about the ministries of the church. Unfortunately, I often took these complaints to heart personally. Yet, I learned to endure by God’s grace and trust Him in it. Yet, another problem was when parishioners grumbled against one another. Sometimes people would grumble about the worship leader or members of the band. Sometimes, it was about the way people dressed, their children or the things they did. To some extent, we are all guilty of doing this in our hearts.
In this passage of Scripture James wrote about the issue of grumbling against believers. The word “Grudge” in the verse is stenazo, meaning to sigh or to groan. It implies an issue of the heart, a judgmental one. What is wrong with groaning against a brother or sister in the Lord? Well, there are many problems with such activity. First, it lacks compassion and forbearance. The Scripture calls us as believers to bear with one another (Eph 4:2; Col 3:13). We must realize that we are all works in progress. Thus, someone needs to be forbearing with each one of us also.
Another problem is that groaning against a brother speaks negatively of the work of God in the heart of the believer. It puts us in the position of not trusting God to do the work of sanctification in the believer’s life, which the Bible indicates He does. This grumbling points the finger at ourselves also since we are all still in this process and have not reached perfection either. In other words, we still fall short.
A third issue is that it keeps us from working to build up the church. Our negative attitudes will not lift up another believer and make his or her life better. It generally creates a separation between the one grumbling and the other person. This negative attitude of the heart is not edifying.
One of the greatest problems is that it demeans the testimony of faith in the eyes of the unbelieving world. When we are grumbling against another in the church in a public setting, it paints a poor picture of Christianity and the power of God. It paints a picture of a divided and powerless church. I have known of Christians who gathered at a coffee shop and voiced their groanings about the church and other believers in earshot of unbelievers. What a negative testimony they gave!
Yet, James points to the greatest problem. In context with the thought that we must be patient since the Lord is returning, James stated, “the judge standeth at the door.” There is a judgment day coming. Yes, even believers will be judged. Paul wrote on this issue, “But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10, AV). At this judgment seat of Christ, believers will suffer either reward or loss for their works, good or bad and grumbling against a believer is a bad work (1 Cor 3:10-15).
Friends, it behooves us to quit our grumbling against one another and seek to build up the body of Christ, the church, for the glory of God. Let us put away our slanderous talk and our grumbling against one another. Let us walk by the Spirit so that Christ’s love may pour out towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.