“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter Judgment.” James 3:1
In the Book of James, we find that James warns the early believers to guard their tongue and be careful of how they speak. For instance, in James 1:19, James says, “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.” What we must know is that this is in context to God’s Word. Believers must be “quick to hear” God’s Word, careful when we “speak” God’s Word, and “slow to anger” when convicted by God’s Word.
In James 2:12, James says, “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty.” Once again, this is in context to God’s Word. Believers must speak and act as those who will be judged by the law of liberty, which is the gospel of grace. In other words, since we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ our Lord (Ephesians 2:8), we must speak and act differently from the world.
And if Christians are to speak and act differently from the world, the Christian teacher must surely guard the tongue and speak differently from the world. And that is James’ point in James 3:1 when he says, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”
This is not to dissuade a person from becoming a pastor or teacher – that is not his point. But, the point is this, for those who are called to teach God’s Word, it comes with great accountability under God’s Word and strict judgment – and that a warning to us.
The power of speech is one of the greatest powers God has given us. With the tongue, a person can praise God, pray, sing praises, preach and teach the Word of God, encourage others, and lead people to Christ. What a tremendous privilege! However, with the same tongue, a person can also tell lies that could harm someone and ruin his reputation, break someone’s heart, cause disunity in the church, and discourage others. The ability to speak words is the ability to influence people for good or evil, for the cause of Christ or the rebellion of this world. Teaching God’s Word is a privilege and comes with the power of God, but it also brings responsibility and accountability to know sound doctrine from God’s Word and teach it correctly.
As Christian teachers, called by God to influence people in a Christ-centered and God-given direction from God’s Word, we are to lead people to Christ from God’s Word and help people grow in their faith from God’s Word by the power of the Holy Spirit.
May God bless you with His grace, love and truth!