A Serious Admonition To Bible Teachers

In a recent interview with CBN News, Dr James Dobson issued this warning, “May we be careful with the way we speak and think and talk against those who are opposed to everything we believe. You have to maintain a spirit of charity and love, and God will bless us if we do.

Dobson’s words ring particularly true this morning as I read from James 3 this sobering admonition. “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”

Typically we take this chapter and preach lessons about the power, potential and possible poison that the tongue possesses. We warn against malicious gossip. Vulgarity. Cursing. Swearing. Lying. Telling dirty jokes. And every other kind of sin associated with ungodly speech. While this chapter certainly has an application to all Christians in this regard, it is well to remember that James directed it toward teachers.

Perhaps many people in the assembly wanted to occupy a place of spiritual leadership and be a teacher. Maybe they were enamored with the prestige and power of such a position. Pride may have motivated some to aspire to teach publicly. Regardless, James reminds them and us of this tremendous responsibility and the personal accountability a teacher has. Because as teachers we influence others, we will receive stricter judgment.

James uses 6 figures of speech to describe the tongue’s impact– A rudder, fire, a poisonous animal, a fountain, and a fig tree. All of these reminds us that our words have consequences. They have great power. They have the ability to impact the lives of others for good or evil.

The bit and the rudder analogy reminds us that the tongue has the power to direct others. To guide. To steer. To move in a specific direction.

The tongue, like fire, can also destroy. Like a little spark can begin a great fire that destroys a forest, so can a harmful, ill-timed word harm and hurt another person.

Of course, the tongue can bring wonderful delight to its hearers. Just like the fountain can offer a cool refreshing drink or the fig tree can produce tasty fruit, so can the words we speak lift, encourage, and inspire others to greater faithfulness and more fruitful service.

We need teachers. Good teachers. Godly teachers. Faithful teachers. Fearless teachers. Teachers who will speak the truth. But also teachers who speak the truth in the spirit of love.

Teachers who write or speak in rude and crude terms are not living up to the Biblical standard. Hateful speech. Insulting speech. And unkind speech is neither helpful nor godly. It will not point the lost to Christ. Nor will it edify the saints.

Whether we teach publicly or privately the responsibility is the same. Also with social media opportunities, and the accessibility of blogs, more and more people are stepping into the role of sharing their insights, knowledge and wisdom. In such cases, let us follow the advice of James Dobson and the inspired directive of James the brother of Jesus.

The words of Paul are also appropriate to consider anytime we have an opportunity to teach others. “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col 4:5-7).

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


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3 responses to “A Serious Admonition To Bible Teachers

  1. Many people seeking social justice these days are falling into the temptation of doing what the church teaches Jesus did. Scripture shows Jesus getting angry and speaking out against the Pharisees calling them blind teachers, hypocrites and foxes. Even the “Good Teacher” looks at the rich person and loves her and covets her possessions. Jesus was human and was not perfect. That is to say Jesus made mistakes. What perfects or distinguishes Jesus from the human who is stuck in sin…in a constant state of error is Jesus’ humility and commitment to the Truth with Love. In my view, the Jesus Nicodemus story in John 3 and the Jesus Woman story in John 20 work together with the Simon Jesus story of John 21. The two teachers of John 3 meet under the cover of darkness. This is a mistake that leads to heartbreak and causes Jesus the Woman to be treated exceedingly bitter. Simon Peter thinking like a Cyrenaic runs away from the Woman and the Tomb. But in the end of John’s Gospel, the Rock accepts the job of being the Father, the Bride Groom who admits he loves the Bride who no longer clings to the Teacher.

    • Pat

      “Even the “Good Teacher” looks at the rich person and loves her and covets her possessions. Jesus was human and was not perfect. That is to say Jesus made mistakes.”…….

      Hebrews 4:15
      For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin.

      Hebrews 7:26
      Such a high priest truly befits us–One who is holy, innocent, undefiled, set apart from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.

      1 Peter 2:22
      “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.”

      1 John 3:5
      But you know that Christ appeared to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin.

      There is no argument because there can be nothing more to say.

      • Pat, I can see you know your scriptures. Jesus as High Priest can sympathize with our weaknesses because Jesus was tempted like Adam and Eve and the Serpent to slither away and say nothing and to point the finger of blame on Eve and let it stick. Jesus didn’t do that. Peter’s scripture is an interesting one because Jesus said to the Rock that many see as a stumbling block, “get behind me Satan.” Was Jesus simply wrong or being deceitful to call the very Rock many are tempted to reject or lose faith in …Satan? Satan is usually depicted as a hedonist and a liar! To say that Jesus committed no sin or no deceit was found in His mouth is outrageous and deceptive. Like the parables Jesus was so found of using, scriptures and teachers often say outrageous, untrue things or exaggerations to catch the attention of their listeners. And Good Teachers do make mistakes and the best ones learn from their mistakes and freely admit them. A good teacher who does learn from his/her mistakes is free from error, free from sin until a new learning opportunity comes again. The Good Teacher will not be afraid to risk making a mistake or a grievous error that contravenes God’s Law because the Good Teacher knows perfect obedience to God’s Law makes people very unhappy and hungry for the freedom to explore. God wants people to have the freedom to love one another and to learn from their mistakes. The Good Teacher, The Rock and the Woman who loved both were tempted to go and say nothing about the Love Affair that traps all three of them and the Good Teacher’s Gracious House Wife in Adultery. The Good News is. All three, or more correctly, all four finally got their act together and the disciples finally understood the Good News of the Resurrection and the Good News went viral.

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