Oh boy. We are tackling a big subject today that is close to everyone’s heart – the sin of the tongue.
This is a universal sin. Everyone struggles and everyone falls. There isn’t a single person alive who is able to perfectly control this small part of their body.
James mentions in Chapter 3, Verse 1 a note of caution for those of us who struggle in this area: we shouldn’t be too eager to become teachers. He is especially talking about those who teach about God.
Those who teach others hold a great power. They are able to steer people closer to God or farther away. They have the ability to help others become more knowledgeable about God and help them mature in their faith. They also have the ability to teach false doctrines, half-truths and thinly veiled heresies leaving those whom they teach immature and believing lies.
Teachers hold great responsibilities, and with that comes greater accountability and judgment for the direction in which they lead others.
It is easy to quickly skip over these verses because most of us don’t teach Bible in a formal way as professional educators. Most of us don’t travel the globe speaking at conferences and conventions. But let’s not fly through this passage too quickly – there is something in here for all of us.
- If you lead a Bible study, you are responsible either for the teaching or for what is being taught.
- If you are mentoring or are disciplining another person, you will be held accountable for what you teach.
- If you are a parent and have children, you hold great responsibility because you are called to train your children in the knowledge of God (Deut. 6).
The responsibility that we have as parents is overwhelming. Because we are with our children all the time, so teaching happens more with our kids than with other people. What are we teaching? What truths about God are they learning? Do we make things up or say things that are not true in order to get our kids to obey? Do we show them the beauty of Jesus or only the stern “rules” they are to follow?
How do we do a good job teaching our family and others about God?
We need to be good students. Specifically, we need to be diligent students of God’s Word who understand that the Bible is a book first and foremost about God and not about man. Because Scripture is God revealing Himself to us, we need to always ask, “What is this passage teaching about God?” Then we can ask “What does this truth reveal about me?” or “How should this passage affect the way I live?”
James is letting us know that God expects us to portray Him truthfully and rightly. That teaching is a scary calling because we will be held accountable for what we teach about God and His word to others.
But don’t get too overwhelmed! We have the Holy Spirit as our teacher, other believers to talk things out with and a plethora of books with sound Biblical teaching available to us.
And when we mess up, we have a Savior who is more than willing to forgive us and help us use our tongue in a way that edifies and encourages others.
Looking To Jesus,
Week 3 Challenge: This week, pray and ask God to help you speak words that encourage and give life to those around you. Intentionally pay attention to the words you speak and if you find yourself criticizing others or yourself, ask God to help you speak words that build up rather than words that tear down.
Week 3 Reading Plan
Week 3 Memory Verse