Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Be Very Careful How You Teach

Before I continue with the series of posts I have planned regarding the SGF Ladies' Retreat, I want to comment about teaching. I am painfully aware that I use this blog to teach, so what I have to say applies to myself first and foremost.

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

We all stumble in many ways, and we are prone to stumble in the use of the tongue.

Consider Job's friends. They met with Job after the terrible tragedy that befell him, and they sat there silently day after day. I'm sure Job appreciated the company as he reeled with the pain of losing everything. But when his friends began to teach him what they thought they knew about God, his pain increased.

Job begins to talk back after he becomes exasperated with their "wisdom".

Job 26

Then Job answered and said:
2 “How you have helped him who has no power!
How you have saved the arm that has no strength!

Job sarcastically points out that his three friends, by accusing the one who is the helper of the poor and needy, have hurt their only source of power. Job had been the protector of the weak and the provider for the poor. But in their eyes, he must be wrong.

3 How you have counseled him who has no wisdom,
and plentifully declared sound knowledge!
4 With whose help have you uttered words,
and whose breath has come out from you?

Job is mocking their wisdom, and pointing out that the words they have uttered have not been with the help from God that they need; their breath was wasted.

Be very careful when you offer counsel. Make sure you are rightly dividing the Word of Truth, and that you have considered the whole counsel of God, not just a small part of it. When you give advice, be humble and admit that some things are not as simple as they seem.

5 The dead tremble
under the waters and their inhabitants.
6 Sheol is naked before God,
and Abaddon has no covering.
7 He stretches out the north over the void
and hangs the earth on nothing.
8 He binds up the waters in his thick clouds,
and the cloud is not split open under them.
9 He covers the face of the full moon
and spreads over it his cloud.
10 He has inscribed a circle on the face of the waters
at the boundary between light and darkness.
11 The pillars of heaven tremble
and are astounded at his rebuke.
12 By his power he stilled the sea;
by his understanding he shattered Rahab.
13 By his wind the heavens were made fair;
his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.

Notice the power of God. He does what He wants with nature and weather, with Nations such as Egypt (Rahab) and with animals such as the fleeing serpent. He controls all things.

14 Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways,
and how small a whisper do we hear of him!
But the thunder of his power who can understand?”

We cannot understand how God controls the forces of nature, which we can see. What makes us presume we know what He is doing in the lives of others, when we cannot see into their hearts? We cannot know what God is doing in the midst of disastrous circumstances. We do not know how God is working or what He is accomplishing in the lives of fellow believers. We are very, very little; God is very, very big.

So, in teaching, be humble and gentle. Avoid grave pronouncements that seem to suggest that you know what is going on perfectly. You don't. You can only guess. Only God knows the heart. Avoid giving the impression that you have "arrived" down the spiritual path to perfection. You haven't. As long as you draw breath you will battle your sinful nature. Only God can sanctify and glorify His children.

Be humble. Pray much. Be careful how you teach.

1 comment:

Remember that you will give an account for every word. Respond with wisdom and grace, please.