Discernment and Teachers

James 3:1
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Frankly, this verse has always been a scary one for me. Combine it with the words of Matthew 13:53 (He [Jesus] said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.”) and you have a powerful standard set for teachers. As someone who calls themselves a teacher I take these words very seriously. The responsibility is great. By the same token, I believe that God is responsible for making me this way, so I trust that He will use me in anyway He sees fit. But still . . . 

What brings concern when I read these words is that I see so many people who blindly accept every word spoken by people who place themselves into positions of Biblical authority. This is a dangerous practice. If you are not reading the Bible yourself, seeing with your own eyes and hearing with your own spirit, then you are bound to fall victim to those who can speak eloquently about the Word but truly know little about it. That's tough to say but I see the consequences of that practice every day. There is only one final authority and that is the voice of God, spoken through His Word. My thoughts about the Word are just that - my thoughts. They must be held up to scrutiny and compared to the whole of Scripture for accuracy and faithfulness. Every teacher must willingly submit to this standard. If they don't, walk away.

I often joke with the members of my congregation whom I teach regularly that the most frightening words spoken in our church for me are "well, Carolyn said . . . " I shudder when I hear that. But, as we discussed in an earlier post, my words are just like that toothpaste squeezed from the tube. I can never unspeak them. As a teacher, I'm responsible for every person I speak to and the words that I say. God Himself holds me responsible for that. Like I said - scary.