Oh, the Presumption of a Teacher!

Jms. 3:1 “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”

            Presume is an interesting term here. It is rather a presumptuous thing to take the position of teacher over others, assuming to lead them into knowledge and truth they need – knowledge and truth the teacher presumes to possess and presumes to invest in the learner. God through James puts forth the challenge: “Don’t be too quick to assume you are ready to teach others, to take on that heavy weight of responsibility. Stop and realize that it is a very significant obligation!”

When one is given the responsibility and the ability to study and understand the truths of God he holds them to a higher standard of accountability (Luke 12:47-48). Students trust teachers, which makes them vulnerable to the teacher’s errors. Students need to take responsibility to study for themselves and be sure of what teachers are teaching – but in this passage God through James is strongly charging teachers to understand their position of responsibility.

We who teach must take the position seriously, earnestly seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance for our thoughts as we read and reach conclusions, seek to make application, extrapolate meaning and connect it to other truths we have studied. We are totally incapable of doing any of that without the Spirit doing his job of teaching us. The best teachers are those who have been well taught by God’s Spirit in the quietness of their study, alone with him.

I am humbled by the honor of teaching God’s Word, here in the blog, in a face-to-face group study, in mentoring relationships, and even in little daily Face Book posts. Face Book: Kitty Jones Mt. Gilead, in case you’re interested.

I teach with a healthy dose of fear and trepidation, knowing I am quite capable of miss-speaks that could lead someone astray or failure fully to study a concept and be left speechless when a reasonable question is asked. I’m not worried that I’ll look foolish. I do foolish pretty well. I just don’t want to be guilty of jumping to my own conclusions and then teaching those. “Lord, I’m trusting you to keep me true to your Word as I teach and as I live my daily life.”

“Judged more strictly” actually conveys the concept of condemnation! True believers will never suffer condemnation (Rom. 8:1), but it looks like teachers who fail to teach God’s truths accurately because they were careless and failed to seek the Holy Spirit’s teaching as they studied will suffer something quite awful, even if they themselves are true followers of Jesus.

Then there are those who presume to preach and teach without actually having any access at all to the teaching of God’s Holy Spirit because they are not genuinely born again. I shudder to think of the multitudes who have been led astray by such pastors and teachers and the condemnation under which they will be judged.

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