May 04, 2021 – Tuesday
James 3:1-2 NIV
1 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
James 3:1-2 NASB
1 Do not become teachers in large numbers, my brothers, since you know that we who are teachers will incur a stricter judgment.
2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to rein in the whole body as well
These two verses opening chapter three are cautionary statements for anyone thinking about becoming a teacher of the gospel as a pastor or preacher. It is interesting James included himself when he said, [W]e who teach will be judged more strictly. So if you are a believer and you want to teach, know this, you will be judged more strictly than others.
What will you be judged more strictly on? The second verse provides an answer to the question. First it tells us we are all sinners, We all stumble in many ways, but that does not answer the question. Instead it acknowledges that all men sin which we also know from Proverbs 20:9, Ecclesiastes 7:20 and 1 John 1:8, among others.
Beyond stumbling James adds, Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check. When I first read this, I thought it contradicted the prior statement that We all stumble in many ways. But it did not as a closer read reveals James is now addressing what a teacher says, what he says about Jesus, about the gospel, about salvation. In other words, to not stumble in the words of your teaching shows real spiritual maturity. Of course, most teaching is with the tongue and also with writing (as I am doing here).
You may wonder why James is making a big deal out of this, but if we refer to what he said in 1:26, Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. And later in 3:4-9, Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Then in 1 Peter 3:10, Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. Finally in Ephesians 4:29, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Do you get it now? Your tongue is dangerous, and everyone needs to be careful to control it. Especially teachers! For those who are saying to themselves, “I’m glad I never became a teacher concerning God’s word.” Really? What do you say to your spouse, your children, your siblings, your co-workers? Is it wholesome or unwholesome? As a believer does it present a positive ‘picture’ of a follower of Jesus?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Help me always control my tongue. Let me speak in such a way to honor and glorify You. Let me always be aware of what I am saying and the impact it may have. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.