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Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. (James 5:9)
Zondervan Bible Background writes, “The word ‘grumble’ translates a word (stenazō) that often connotes the frustration of God’s people at the oppression that they are suffering. Exodus 2:23 is a classic example: ‘During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God.’ James, of course, here prohibits believers from grumbling against each other. But his use of this word may hint at the fact that their impatience with one another is the product of the persecution they are enduring.”
Christians are advised not to grumble against one another. The Greek word (στενάζω stenazō) implies inner sighing or groaning, as opposed to openly complaining against another. Earlier in the letter, James dealt with brothers that were openly speaking against and judging others in the congregation. In this instance, he is getting at the feeling behind those outward complaining judgments, which can ruin relationships, even those not directly involved causing a rift within the congregation. Consider that the one grumbling internally has close friends, and those grumbles are directed against has close friends. Thus, friends tend to side with friends. We might find ourselves grumbling because others in the congregation have more than we do in life, which makes us dissatisfied, sad, angry, disappointed, and miserable as if it is the fault of the other with the advantages. As though it is wrong for them to have more pleasures in life than we do. We find this a lot in liberal socialists, who want to take the money of the wealthy to give it to those who never earned it. Maybe, we grumble because we incorrectly perceive that another has offended us or is ignoring us, as we are eager to be offended at anything. Maybe others are ignoring us because we are always grumbling and complaining, with our bitter, unhappy, frustrated, disgruntled, discontented temper. We can find nothing good to say about anyone apart from ourselves. We are the only intelligent person in the world, processing common sense. We feel very superior as we complain about the stupidity of others. Maybe, just maybe, this is why others avoid us. Who would want to spend time with such a person? Grumbling and complaining are offshoots of pride and haughtiness, which will lead to a miserable, pitiful life and utterly in opposition to the essence of the gospel. See Luke 3:14; Phil. 4:11; 1 Tim. 6:8; Heb. 13:5.
Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged. That is, we will be judged as we judged. God will adversely judge us for judging others with our grumbling, complaining attitude, for this attitude is, in fact, judging them as to whether they are worthy of eternal life or not or worthy of God’s undeserved kindness. See Matt. 7:1.
Within the congregation, someone is bound to let us down, maybe even numerous times, which can move us toward sighing or groaning internally, as they failed to live up to our expectations. Thus, James is letting the brothers know that we live in imperfect flesh, within fallen humanity, having Satan cater to our human weaknesses, all the while being mentally bent toward bad. In other words, Christians who are aware of these conditions need to make allowances for one another. (See Gal. 6:10) Instead of sighing or groaning over perceived slights against us, we get back to the need of being patient until the coming of the Lord. (5:7) In fact, if they carry on in sighing or groaning against their brother, it is they that will be guilty before the judgment seat of God, as he can read their heart, the seat of motivation. We should be cautious here because it is not sighing or groaning themselves that is being condemned because Jesus did so. (Mark 7:34) Rather, sighing or groaning that comes about from a wrong inner attitude toward one’s brother.
When James says, behold, the Judge is standing at the door, he is inferring that the second coming of Jesus is nearby. Jesus Christ will soon come to judge the world. (5:8) It is as though he is walking up to the door, reaching out his hand to knock, so close that he can hear every word that you utter. Jesus said about the end of this wicked age, “so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” (Mark 13:29) Thus, if James were warning the first century Christians about the nearness of the second coming of Christ, should not the Christians of the 21st century be even more concerned. We need to live as though Jesus is returning tomorrow but plan as though it is fifty years from now. In other words, we maintain our righteous standing before God because the second coming could come at any time, but we plan a long life of carrying out his will and purposes. However, let it be said that we do not maintain a righteous standing for fear of a return at any time but because it is the right thing to do. We must certainly not let our desire for relief through Jesus’ return slowly give way to a lack of patience, resulting in feeling displeasure concerning our Christian brothers. Though we do not complain outwardly, the sighing and groaning of the inner person can condemn him.
 Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Hebrews to Revelation., vol. 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 115.
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