Let Not Many of You Be Teachers

by Terry Wane Benton

"Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment" (James 3:1).

James 3:1 makes this statement, but what does it mean? In the context, it was a certain “you” that was quick to speak and slow to hear (James 1:19), who might be a hearer but not a doer of the word (James 1:22), and who did not bridle the tongue (James 1:26), who might hold the faith with partiality (James 2:1f) chumming up to the wealthy and not seeing the value of all souls, not showing mercy (James 2:13), and who shows a shallow faith that is not active in doing good works, showing a dead kind of faith (James 2:13-26). This kind of person does not need to be a teacher of others until he or she learns to put some depth and life into their faith.

There needs to be a kind of faith that displays wisdom from above. That wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy (James 3:17). This teacher will have greater control over the tongue that already is the hardest member to control.

A teacher who says reckless things will start fires everywhere, and someone will have to go behind them to put out those fires. We must be very careful what we say and how we say it. We need to operate with wisdom from above, and if we are not going to utilize that kind of wisdom, we do not need to be teachers. Now, everyone needs to become a teacher at some point (Hebrews 5:12-14), at least able to teach on some level, but before teaching comes growing and maturing in the wisdom from above.

Let us have a pure resolve to serve God and not be double-minded, seeking our own praise and glory and some glory for God. Let it be purely for God’s glory. Let us seek to be “peaceable,” not stirring anger, doubt, and controversy where a false stronghold does not exist to be torn down. There should be a gentle, non-threatening spirit that is not seeking a quarrel. There is not a “me-first” disposition. When a teacher seeks praise from men over edifying them, this one needs to wait for maturing to prepare them to be teachers. When we cannot put ourselves in the shoes of those we hope to help, we do not know “mercy” as we ought. Let not many of “you” be teachers who do not understand the power of the tongue and that a little fire can burn down a lot before the damage is brought under control again.

Many souls depend on a well-guided teacher with a well-guided tongue. If you are unaware of how a little fire can destroy a big forest or how a little member can direct or misdirect big things, then you are not prepared to teach yet. Let not many of you (who are not sufficiently prepared) be teachers! Grow and mature in the wisdom from above first, and then teach others.

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