I remember the first time I really took to heart those words. Pastor Mike was speaking from James and it hit home. I had taught for years in the churches I had attended, and in church preschools. Until that moment, though, teaching was just something I enjoyed doing, sharing information that sometimes people wanted, and sometimes they didn’t. I know that all teachers are trainers, but not all trainers are teachers.
It is amazing how you can read, even think you understand the scripture, and then suddenly it really becomes a two-edged sword…
It has been suggested, by many folks, that I overanalyze things. Perhaps. Okay, yeah, I do. But that message and my analyzing of it took me on a journey to determine why I taught, how I taught, and even if I should even be teaching. The process changed my outlook on teaching, gave it a richer meaning, a deeper sense of responsibility and accountability. I was humbled, relying not on my teaching as a proof of what I knew, but seeking wisdom from God to use the knowledge I had to give students what they needed because judgment awaited me. But not a judgment as the world sees it, as the world uses that word. At that point in my life, I understood what all of James was saying in relation to the leading statement of James 3: Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
So when I was offered a teaching position in a private Christian school I could accept it with confidence, because I knew I was trusting God to tame my tongue and keep my heart pure for these young people. And I could enjoy it, even the difficult times, because I knew at that point in my life I was fully in God’s Will.
A few years later I started working on my master’s degree in Spiritual Formation through an accredited online seminary, and one of the books I was required to read was The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer. I still have the book, even though life circumstances didn’t allow me to complete my degree, I gained a lot in those classes. I was a bit surprised at first by the book because it was not a book on teaching, Biblical or otherwise. It was a book about being a teacher, and what the life of a teacher is all about. Relationships, responsibilities, joys, sorrows…not just in classroom situations, but in all levels of life; jobs, communities, governmental positions – anything in life that required the heart of a teacher.
I saw it on the bookshelf the other day and decided to pick it up and read it again. Mostly because I don’t teach anymore, or at least that’s what I’ve told myself. Oh, I blog, and I share my own life learnings, but something has been missing. All that to say, I’m going to take some time to read the book, pray about James 3 and then make decisions about some things in my life. And so, after this week, the blog is taking a sabbatical.
Keep seeking God. Keep trusting God. And, sooner or later, if it’s His Will, I’ll be back.
God bless you all! – Vicki
James 3 (ESV)
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and 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 human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
Published on May 17, 2010, on YouTube
Published on Aug 22, 2017 on YouTube
I sincerely hope it is a misconception on my part that my observations of people in the last decade have shown me that sometimes people are so obsessed with being individualistic that they have forgotten the strength and joy found in being part of a like-minded community. Even a popular type of community found online cannot have the connection that physically being with others that share your same world views, concerns, affections, and goals do.
My thinking process naturally turned to the Bible in relation to the definition I shared at the beginning of the post. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament are full of examples of the judicial process. In my research, I found a ten page PDF file of a report on how the judicial process came about in the Old Testament. It is logical, if as a believer I recognize God as Supreme Judge, that I accept that He would assure a proper system was set in place by those who penned the scriptures.
It also would seem logical to include anything public in the idea of Biblical scrutiny. There is accountability among fellow believers to be and do the things pleasing to God, in regards to ourselves and to our fellow Christians.
Then there is science. I love science, and I am a firm believer that science reveals God to mankind. There are scientific examples in the Bible of things that for a long time were unexplainable, and so discounted as myths or stories to explain something that couldn’t be explained. But modern science, bit by bit, is proving what we who believe by faith have known. The Creator’s level of intelligence and creativity cannot be matched by mankind, and the mysteries of creation are slowly being uncovered.
One last thought. I know that every time I put word to paper (or word to a computer screen), I am putting myself into a position of being under scrutiny. It’s a good thing for others to read, and to weigh knowledge and truth in what they’ve read. I have hope that any scrutiny is deep enough it leads someone to do their own research, decide in their own hearts the right, or wrong, in what they have scrutinized. I am not infallible. Believe me, I know that. I’m learning as I go, just like everyone else.
Being under scrutiny doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But when you are the one scrutinizing something, or someone, remember to be like the Bereans and check things out before you come to conclusions.
It might just be someone like me who is working through this life of faith and sharing the journey, ready for a new revelation. Always.
Next blog: Not everyone should teach
Isaiah 45:8 – “Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it.
Matthew 7:24-27 – “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand
Gary McDuffee Published on Jul 20, 2013 – YouTube
I periodically read different sections in the Book of Revelation, like a kid looking for answers to the great mystery. I’ve sat under at least three pastors that have done amazing studies on the book. I’ve studied it myself. I’ve even taught it myself. And, still, I go back like I’m trying to find something that alludes me.
I suppose, in reality, that’s how I do a lot of my Bible reading; like I’m looking for that long lost treasure. Only it isn’t lost, it’s right there and the discoveries continue with all the excitement that any treasure hunt brings.
But candlesticks? For the longest time, when the reference was made to the lampstands, candlesticks, whichever way your translations or commentaries refer to them, I’ve been captivated by the symbolism. Reference to lampstands is throughout the entire Bible. Early on we discover that lampstands were designed by God, with specific instructions given to Moses on how to construct them.
Exodus 25:31-40 – “Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them.
The detail is amazing in the design, the use of gold, and the expectation that the instructions were to be followed precisely. Something of purpose and beauty, a symbol of great light to fill a dark world. Isn’t that what we are, a light to cast away the spiritual darkness of the world?
To do a detailed study on the symbolism, and on all the revelation around lampstands would be much too extensive for a blog that has a limited word count. (Yes, I do try to keep it from getting too long.) But it is all worth taking a look at. After all, if God was so detailed in his instructions to build the lampstand, then it is worth learning as much as you can about what the lampstand represents. Taking the time to search out the verses yourself, and come to your own conclusions with Biblical confirmation, is so much richer than merely accepting something someone else has to say.
Go ahead, start your own treasure hunt.
Next blog: Under scrutiny