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Teaching Others

My brethren, be not many teachers, knowing that
we shall receive the severer judgment. (James 3:1 - NKJV)

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers,
because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. (NIV)

Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing
that we will receive a stricter judgment. (HCSB)

Teaching others the Word of God is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is a tremendous responsibility, one not to be undertaken unless led by the Spirit, Not everyone is called to teach. Often in our churches we are so happy just to find sombody to fill an opening that we don't really examine that person's calling to be a teacher.

While it is true that God doesn't call the equipped, He equips those He calls, the key idea is being called by God. If God calls you to teach, He will equip you to do so, even if you only have a fourth grade education and can't even spell "seminary". If He has not called you, your labor is in vain. It doesn't matter if you have the finest education in the world, you will be teaching in your own power, not being led by the Spirit, and God is not required to bless your efforts if He has not called you to teach.

Some people want to have the status of being a teacher. They want the respect and honor often given to a good teacher. They want to be in what they see as a position of leadership in the church. What they fail to understand is that teaching is actually a position of servanthood. Teachers are subject to both God, and to the church, as well as to their students.

Some seem to think it gives them a little more wiggle room, that maybe God will turn a blind eye to a few little transgressions because after all, they are teachers. Nothing could be farther from the truth, however. We all know of some who have fallen from grace because they became lax in their personal standards. But God will never give those claiming to be His servants a pass, allowing them to deviate from His standards.

The truth is, those who would be teachers are subject to a harsher judgment than their students. That's a little daunting, isn't it? Who would voluntarily, knowingly subject themselves to stricter standards, to harsher judgment, to servanthood, without having a calling from the Lord? Do you know of anyone who wants to stand before God and say to Him, "No, no, don't go too easy on me, Lord - judge me harsher than the rest!" I sure don't!

I know when I stand before God, I want His mercy, His grace - not a harsher judgment. And yet, He has called me to be a teacher. I know I'm not the smartest, nor the most righteous; I'm not the most popular or the most self-confident. I know I need the power of the Holy Spirit to do what I do. I know I cannot do it on my own, I have to depend on His leadership and guidance. And I know, from His own word, that I will be held to a higher level of accountability.

That leaves me - and every person called by God to teach - two choices: to either accept that we will be judged more strictly, or to say no to God's calling. But there is something else I know: God is faithful, and He is just. He is faithful, and will faithfully equip us to do what He has called us to do, regardless of our lack of qualifications - or in maybe spite of them! And He is just. If we make sure we keep to His standards, and humble ourselves to be led and guided by the Holy Spirit instead of just doing what we see fit; if we seek to honor God and give Him glory rather than seeking our own glory and honor, then we can trust Him to to do what is just and right, even if He does have sticter judment for us! We just need to be obedient and leave the rest to Him!


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