Do you remember your favorite teacher growing up? It could be a science teacher who taught with a vast knowledge on the subject. It could be pastor or youth leader who knew when to listen and speak to the events you were going through. My favorite teacher was a baseball coach who took the time to teach the team the basics as well as life lessons. He spent countless hours coaching us, but it was much more than that. He took the time to be involved in the lives of his players as well. He was able to watch us develop as players in tee-ball to teenagers struggling with the trials of becoming men. Whether it was a school teacher, coach, pastor, or parent, the truly great teachers have two things in common: their love of the subject they are teaching and their love of the ones they are teaching. We have the perfect example of this in the person of Jesus Christ.
James 3:1 speaks as a warning to those who seek to be teachers for selfish reasons. In the early church teaching played an extremely important role. There are numerous instances in the New Testament where Paul or the other apostles needed to correct teaching that led certain churches down the wrong path. Whether the teaching was from teachers seeking personal gain or sometimes just ignorance it seemed the early church was constantly struggling to find its way. Those teachers who refused to let the message of Jesus be distorted and for those in their care to wander and stray expressed true love for God and those whom they ministered to.
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers,
for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
While this passage may seem to scare us away from teaching, I believe that teaching in life is unavoidable. Whether we like it or not we are teaching within our families, places of work and communities. Our actions and words teach others about our relationship with Jesus. They show others that there is indeed another way to live. We are able to teach joy in seemingly dire circumstances when others may wilt because of the love God has shown us. We are constantly teaching our children about the love of God with even the simplest act of service on an everyday basis. These simple everyday moments add up to a lifetime of teaching. The message of this passage seems to be that we are to be much more aware that we are always teaching and that this teaching has far-reaching consequences. Basically we are never to take the honor of teaching lightly.
So this leads us to ask some questions. Do we see ourselves as teachers? Are we striving to convey the love that God has shown us to those we come into contact with on a regular basis? Do we care enough about these people to try to truly see them the way God does?
As we strive to be more like Christ each and every day we continue to learn from him. We imitate those who taught us well as we were growing. We imitate those in the faith that came before us. We pass on what we have learned to those around us as teachers, coaches, community leaders, workers, fathers, sons, mothers, and daughters. Hebrews 13:7 lays this out for us well.
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God.
Consider the outcome of their way of life,
and imitate their faith.”