Dangers of being a teacher.
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. (Jas 3:1-2a)
It seems appropriate that James would start a lesson about the use of the tongue with teachers. James gives two reasons that closely link together for not becoming a teacher. One is that teachers are judged with greater strictness and since two, we all stumble in many ways, it is imperative that we exercise caution.
It is not that James doesn’t want brethren to grow to the point where they could be teachers. The Hebrew writer chastises his audience for not yet being teachers. (Heb 5:12) However, it seems that James’ audience was only too anxious to be teachers…even if they were not ready.
To be a teacher is to open yourself up to many different criticisms. Timothy was under pressures that would be brought up against him because of his youth. Paul exhorts him not to let men despise his youth. In all likelihood, “don’t give them a reason” to look down on your youth. (I tim 4:12) Timothy was to set an example to the believers in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. All of those items that Timothy is to exemplify would be the same thing that James would want his audience to have.
Paul tells Timothy that those who are to become elders are not to be novices or new converts or else they MAY fall into conceit and the condemnation of the devil. So one thing that we could conclude is that if some of these people James was writing to were new converts, it is better to urge them not to be teachers.
Peter shows that even great teachers can stumble. In Galatians 2, Paul recalls the time he had to rebuke Peter for an error that he made which caused a great problem between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians. Even Barnabas was carried away with the problem.
Looking just at speech, since this is the primary context, what should a teacher be teaching?
Not another Gospel (Gal 1:8): Don’t teach something other than the Gospel that Jesus authorized. All Authority belongs when him and so Peter’s admonition to speak the oracles of God so be our rule. ( I peter 4:11) Teachers might get caught up in explaining God’s and wind up contradicting it . (Mt 15:3) or debating questions that are of no vaule. (I tim 1:3-4)
Not what people want to hear: (2 tim 4:3) It may be easy to fall into the trap of not preaching the Gospel people need to hear but we do not need to give into ‘itching’ ears. The truth is that many do not endure sound doctrine. Churches spring up all over the place catering to the whims and desires of the audience. When the Lord died for us, he said “Follow me” he didn’t take a survey to see what would be more palatable to the audience. Paul assured his audience he was trying to please God not men (Gal 1:10)
Not what brings the teacher glory: (Acts 20:30, 3 John 1:9) Everyone likes to be praised for doing a good job and it is no different for a teacher. Sometimes we like to think we know all things and have all wisdo, so we spout of this or that theory. Gaining followers after one’s particular viewpoint is not uncommon through the ages but, for the teachers of the Gospel, the only one that should receive the glory is God. Take Paul’s perspective: As long as Christ is preached, it doesn’t matter who does it. (Phil 1:18)
As I read through James’ letter, it seems that many of his audience would not be ready to even avoid the ‘nots’ that were listed. How could they avoid other problems both of the tongue or action? It may well have been a teacher in James 2 who said to the poor man “you sit here at my feet” or taught a faith that did not have works.
We should all strive to mature in Christ to the point that we can teach, just be aware that there are difficulties in the job, and glamour should not be the attraction and motive. We need to be ready for those trials and it comes with maturity. Even Jesus waited until being 30 years old to start his ministry. We should be willing to let other take the lead and learn from them before wanting to be teachers.
One other thought worth bringing out. Humility is an important part of being a teacher and knowing your own short comings will help you a lot. I am impressed that James say “we all” stumble and also with Paul’s request for prayers:
praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Eph 6:18-20)
Paul is asking for prayers to preach the Gospel!!? The same Paul who traveled everywhere confronting false doctrine, wrote much of the NT, established congregations, trained preachers, appointed elders, had the gifts of the Spirit!? THAT Paul asked for prayers?!?
If Paul needs prayers…..Well, who am I? but one who needs even more prayers!
Posted on December 19, 2011, in Christianity, Faith, speech, tongue and tagged christianity, commentary on James, faith, slow to speak, stumble in many things, teachers, tongue. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.