Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.
It may seem that, as we head towards the finishing section of The Epistle of James, that James is bouncing around some from subject to subject. He introduces a new topic or two but also seems to be recapping some of the territories he covered in the first four chapters.
In this verse, James seems to be reviewing some of the thoughts he had and points he made earlier in his writing, as again he is teaching about the ways in which we treat one another. He also seems to be tying in this thought with some of the thoughts earlier on the impending judgment. It almost seems James is saying, “Ok, now remember just a minute ago I was telling you that you will be judged for how you treat your money? Well, do you remember how we talked about being mean and holding grudges? Well, guess what? We will be judged for that too!”
The word here, grudge, is used in an interesting way. Apparently, in other places in The New Testament, it is translated to sigh and groan, and really just means the outward expression of a person who is troubled. When we see it combined in reference to how we engage with another person, it translates somewhat in the sense of murmuring and grumbling. Here, I will repeat something I have said before. I am NOT a Greek linguist; however, sometimes just digging a little in the original language pays really big dividends.
Conflict is inevitable. In any situation where more than one person is gathered, there will be differences. God made us different. People disagree and James is not teaching that to disagree is inherently bad. What, then, is he teaching?
It’ simple really. We are not to murmur, gripe and hold grudges against our brothers and sisters in Christ over our disagreements. Is this a serious matter? Well, The Holy Spirit inspired James to write clearly about the judgment in this matter. The judge is standing at the door, and condemnation for our attitude is looming.
This seems a good place to insert a comment made once by a friend:
“Kinda hard to ‘draw nigh’ if I’m carrying a backpack of slander eh?”
That’s a good place to close and something to think about.