James Chapter 3, Verse 1
James Chapter 3, verse 1, says; “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing, that we will receive greater, judgment.” James is classifying himself there, as a “teacher”.
A “teacher” in that verse and others, refers to someone who not only “teaches” God’s word, but it refers to someone who is specially “equipped” and “qualified”, to teach others; About God’s will, and about God’s plan of salvation, and about our responsibility toward God. The KJV uses the word “master”. So again, someone who has some very special skills, and has a very good understanding of the scriptures.
It’s interesting to note, that word “teacher”, is used in reference to some very special people. As I mentioned, James classifies himself, as a teacher. The apostle Paul refers to himself as a teacher, in 1 Timothy 2, verse 7, and in 2 Timothy 1, verse 11.
In 1 Corinthians 12:28, and in Ephesians 4:11, some of those in the first century who possessed miraculous gifts, were called “teachers”. As a matter of fact, having the ability to be a “teacher”, is spoken of as being ONE of the miraculous gifts, given by the Spirit of God.
In Luke 11, verse 1, some of the disciples of Jesus said to Him; “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” So then John the baptist is being referred to as a “teacher”.
And of course the greatest “teacher” of all time, was Jesus Himself. In the gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus is referred to as “teacher”, forty five times.
So then if you would be called a “teacher”, that would put you in some pretty impressive company. And therefore, that would give us the impression, that the word “teacher”, shouldn’t be used lightly, and shouldn’t be used to refer to just any Christian.
But then, on the other hand, listen to the words of Hebrews 5, verse 12; “For when by reason of the time, you OUGHT to be teachers, you have need again, that someone teach YOU, the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God, and are in need of milk, and not of solid food.”
And so that verse is telling us, that after living a certain length of time, AS a Christian, everyone is expected to be able to be a teacher. “..by reason of time, YOU ought to be teachers..” So even though some pretty important people were called “teachers”.. So called “importance” or “high rank” is certainly not a prerequisite, for assuming YOUR responsibility, to teach others.
Two Types of Teachers
Actually, the bible is using the word “teacher” in two different respects, isn’t it? It’s using the word “teacher” in respect to individuals, who actually were, of “high rank”; But it’s also using that word in reference to ordinary Christians, who have simply grown in their faith, and in their biblical knowledge and understanding, so as to be able to explain the bible to others, who don’t have the same experience, and knowledge, and the same degree of understanding.
And here’s something else for us to understand; Those people who were in high ranking positions, and of maybe, more “importance” than others, well, they’re no longer with us. They’ve all past from this life, long ago. And so the only kind of “teachers” that remain, are those “common” type. Just ordinary Christians, like you and I, who because of our experience as Christians, and because of our knowledge of the scriptures, are the ones who must be “the teachers”; Otherwise, if we don’t do it, no one is ever going to BE taught!
Let me read that first part of Hebrews 5, verse 12, once again; “..by reason of time, YOU ought to be teachers..”
So, since that is the case, why does James seem to give a warning, saying; “Let not many of you become teachers..” And why would we “receive greater judgment” if we become teachers, when “by reason of time”, we ought to be teachers? We’re obligated to become teachers! I would think that we’d receive greater judgment, if we don’t teach!
What if you don’t become a teacher, then what? What if you have the experience as a Christian, and what if you know the scriptures, and what if you have a “better than average” understanding of God’s will, and of God’s plan of salvation, and of our responsibilities toward God? Can you simply choose to not use that experience, and that ability, so that you don’t receive greater judgment?
You’re familiar with this verse, aren’t you? Luke 12, verse 48; “..And to whomever much is given, of him shall much be required. And to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more.”
If you’ve been given, the experience as a Christian, and if you’ve been given, the knowledge of the scriptures, and if you’ve been given, faith, because of your knowledge, will you then incur “greater judgment”, by USING all that’s been give to you, or by NOT using what God has given you?
What about James chapter 4, and verse 17; “To him therefore, who knows to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” What about that verse? Do we not all agree, that if we have the ability to teach others, the “good thing to do”, would be to go ahead and BE that one who teaches others?
What about the parable of the “talents”, in Mathew 25:14 thru 30? What do we learn from that little story? We learn that if we don’t use what we’ve been given, we surely won’t be given any more; And not only that, but what we already have, will be taken away.
Could God take away, our knowledge and our understanding? I’m sure he could find a way if He wanted to. But MAYBE, what we have won’t be taken away in this life; But maybe, if we don’t use what we have in this life, then what we think we have stored up for the life to come, will be taken away? Have you ever thought of that possibility?
“By reason of time, you ought to be teachers..” But on the other hand, “Let not many of you become teachers”. Maybe it has a lot to do with pride, and self-sufficiency. Thinking that you know it all, and can say no wrong. Maybe it has a lot to do with attitude. Surely, by all means, have confidence in what the bible says, and don’t shrink back for even a second, from proclaiming what the bible says, and don’t hesitate from proclaiming it boldly! But, don’t think it’s YOUR intelligence, and your ability, that’s getting the job done! Make sure that you’re relying on the wisdom, of God’s word, and are crediting the work to God.
We probably need to remember the words of 1 Corinthians 10, verse 12, which says; “Wherefore, let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest we fall.” We better not be thinking too highly, of our own abilities, because even our abilities, have come to us from God.
Why The Warning ?
So then, why did God have James warn us, about becoming teachers? What do you think?
Here’s another thought that I have on the subject, and I think that it applies, because it’s based on exactly what the bible says. See what you think about this..
In the book of James, God goes from giving us that warning in verse 1, about being teachers, directly into the idea of stumbling, because of the improper use of the tongue; In other words, He warns us, of not being careful enough, in what we say. When we’re “teaching” the bible, we’re using the tongue, aren’t we? And so God says; “Let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive greater judgment; FOR (in other words, Because) in many ways we all stumble.
“Let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive greater judgment; Because in many ways we all stumble.
If any man stumble not in word, the same is a complete man, able to bridle the whole body also.” So then be wary of becoming a teacher, because of the fact that we all seem to stumble in word, and teaching requires the use or words!
God uses several examples, in verses 3 thru 8, to illustrate for us, how such a small member like the tongue, can have such a big impact. I’ll go ahead and read those verses..
“Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small rudder, wherever the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame, by such a small fire!”
“And the tongue IS a fire, the very world of iniquity; The tongue is set among our members, as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.”
And then in verses 9 thru 12, The scripture says this; “Therewith, (with the tongue) we bless the Lord and Father, and therewith, (with the tongue) we curse men, who are made in the likeness of God. Out of the same mouth, comes forth blessing and cursing; My brethren, these things ought not be! Does a fountain send forth from the same opening, sweet and bitter? Can a fig tree, yield olives, or a vine, figs? Neither can salt water yield sweet.”
Now all these comparisons, stem from the warning of becoming teachers, and of how much trouble the tongue can cause. When we teach the word of God, is our tongue not offering blessings? Of course it is. Then we had better be extra careful as a teacher who is offering blessings, that out of that same mouth, we don’t let cursings come forth. Do you see the analogy? You might say, that we better practice what we preach.
There’s a passage in Romans 2, verses 17 thru 23, that deals with a very similar thought. Here’s what it says; “But if you bear the name of a Jew (if you’re one of God’s people) and you rest upon the law, and glory in God, and you know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide of the blind, a light of them that are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having in the law, the form of knowledge, and of the truth; You therefore who teaches another, do you not teach yourself? (in other words, do you not practice what you preach) You that preaches that a man should not steal, do you steal? You that says a man should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?” And the passage goes on with this line of reasoning, but you get the picture.
You better practice what you preach, and if you teach God’s word, and speak those “blessings”, then you need to be able to “bridle” you tongue also, so as to not speak cursings as well!
Doesn’t all that make sense to you? It does to me. And so I thought that was worth looking at, and thinking about. I hope you can profit from this little study.