James 3:1-2 (NIV)
1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
2 We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
Saturday Nights are the one night a week that I most often sleep the least. I am a fairly routine person nearly everyday going to bed about the same time and rising about the same time, but Saturday nights my mind often keeps me going more than any other night. It began over twenty-five years ago, as I entered ministry. No, I am not one of those ministers who wait til the last minute to finish my sermon. The truth is I usually have my sermon started early in the week and put mild touches on about seven in the morning Saturday, so I am free the rest of the day to relax or visit with friends. What keeps my mind in gear is the thought of coming before people with a message and God’s Word.
These verses from James are at the heart of my mind, and should be at the heart of all of us as we use God’s word to teach or to encourage others. We have been given the gift of God’s Scripture to know Him and understand how to live in our world. Growing in the words of the Bible are a wonderful thing, but it is also a great responsibility. We are all human after all, and we can easily misunderstand something or most often simply misquote ourselves as we share. And, James’ warning her is very valid, teachers, leaders, parents, and anyone who uses God’s Word to help or encourage others will be held accountable to Him for what they say. This should give all of us reason to pause and rethink how we are using the words of the Bible every time we quote or speak from it.
The words of this warning are also given to everyone in order to cause us to think a bit before presuming we are perfect and ready to be preachers and teachers to others. He says, “not many of you should presume to be teachers”, as warning to some who think they want to be up front in the “light” or center of attention so to speak. Paul gives similar warnings to Timothy, “Do not be hasty in laying on hands, and do not share in the sins of others,” (1 Timothy 5:22). It is an unfortunate side of preaching, teaching, or any level of leading, as some people simply want the power or attention. Paul was warning Timothy that those seeking position out of the wrong motives and attitude were headed for trouble and he should not participate in that trouble. James is giving the warning to each of us.
Again, the heart of all of this is that there is that as we grow in knowledge or desire to serve God, there is great responsibility. We should be sure we are wanting to serve others, and not build up our own ego’s. We should be sure we are using the gifts we have, and the knowledge we learn within the whole scope of what the Bible teaches us. We should regularly examine and reexamine our lives, our motives, and our teaching to be sure we are doing everything with a the respect of God, the heart of love, and the servant’s heart of humility.
God, help us today to seek to serve you with pure hearts and clean hands. Help us to remember that we all are serving you and others, and to live our lives in humility and respect in all that we do. Bless each and everyone in your love, so that we may love others in a better way. Amen.