Summary: Words fly away like feathers freed from a sack. It is important to keep a check on our words
A Sack full of Feathers
This morning we are back on the subject of a faith that works. We have been looking into the book of James and dealing with the direct teaching about faith and trials and expectations.
According To James self-control is a part of our faith as Christians being slow to anger is important. Temptations and trials will be a part of our everyday life. Two weeks ago we talked about the delicate subject of faith and works. Which I explained that if a person has faith then they will have a changed life…ultimately they will have works. Works offered before salvation are no eternal good but, a nice thing to do but they don’t…can’t save you.
If you take the time to read through the book of James you will find a lot of things to help you when facing a variety of situations. There is not really a good way to outline his thoughts. As we read, he seems to just be flowing from idea to idea.
And today’s scripture picks up on something he said back in Chapter 1:26 “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.”
In today’s reading he starts talking about people that want to be teachers.
James says, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
I don’t think that James is talking to people that want to be teachers for the right reasons. I believe that he is speaking to people that really want to be teachers for less than the right reasons.
What is a less than right reason? The teachers in the early church filled the same role in the Jewish synagogue. A position of respect and importance, a resource for wisdom and influence. In James’ time some of the Rabbis were in it for the power. James is discouraging people from seeking the position for sake of personal importance.
He is suggesting that not everyone is called to teach, he says “not many of you.” Almost all the translations I looked at said, not many of you. I don’t think that he is saying that most people are inferior.
He does not give an exact reason but we might guess that one might be that a person that is new to the faith and understanding should probably not teach right off the bat. Perhaps he is encouraging some kind of training with an apostle or another teacher.
All he really gives is a simple statement that not everyone is called to teach. And then he offers a reminder of why.
We teachers are held to a higher standard when Judgment day comes. Teachers have a responsibility to teach the right things. We teachers have a responsibility to prepare and be a proper teacher.
Personally, I worry about that warning regularly. I feel pressure to prepare for every teaching opportunity, spoken or written.
Something we have learned about James is that he does not sugar coat the truth and what to expect as people of faith.
If I did not feel enough pressure from myself I have had a church member in my past that thought it was his job to remind me of this higher standard. He was at every service and Bible study and meeting as an observer. He used this same passage to disqualify himself from accepting an official leadership or teaching role in the church.
We also hear from James that people are not perfect.
He says, “We all stumble in many ways.”
I am not clear if he is talking about teachers or believers in general. Either way he is saying that a teacher is never going to be perfect. Everyone is going to mess up in one way or another.
So the higher standard for teachers does not require perfection.
It requires the right motives and a willingness to teach God’s truth and avoid personal ideas and opinions. A teacher also must be willing to live as a good example. A teacher is always being observed by his or her students. A Christian teacher must live a life of faith in order to be believed when they teach.
He adds, “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.”
Let me read that one again, “If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.”
I have watched little bits of the Olympics over the last couple of weeks. I get discouraged when I look at all those young men and women with their perfect bodies. Muscles showing in places that I did not know we had muscles.