Summary: 1. Teaching imparts truth. 2. Truth brings about maturity. 3. Maturity brings about usefulness.
We are emphasizing spiritual gifts in our church because we believe that every Christian’s life should be used by God for kingdom purposes. God’s plan is that his people, first of all, take on his character and likeness, and then be a part of the divine conspiracy — the transformation of the world by overcoming evil with good. And the way that is done is by being a disciple and making disciples of Jesus Christ. This is how we change the world. Making disciples involves the very important gift of teaching.
My oldest daughter, Lori, has a daughter named Lydia who is five-years-old. Lydia and I were talking the other day, and I knew she had a little girl next door with whom she was friends, and she had also made several friends in pre-school. So I said to her, “Lydia, who is your best friend?” She thought for a moment and said, “Jesus is a friend of mine.” Lori says that they will be riding in the car and she will say, “Look, Mom, I’m waving to Jesus up in the clouds.” Abby and Rachel, and our other granddaughters, sing “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” However, the Bible didn’t “tell them so,” because they have never read the Bible. They are too young to read. How do these girls know these things? Someone else had to tell them that important truth. Certainly their parents had a lot to do with it. But there were many others as well: nursery workers, Sunday School teachers, Wednesday Connection teachers and others. Some of you here are responsible for their spiritual heritage. The gift of teaching is a gift to the world. It is used by God in very important ways. Those who teach share life skills. Teachers of spiritual truth share kingdom skills. They are passing on skills that they have learned in life, and equipping people with essentials which they will need in life and in their walk with God.
There are certain things we need to understand when it comes to the gift of teaching. First: Teaching imparts truth. Nothing is more important than truth, and yet there are many people today who do not believe in truth, or if they do, they believe that what is true for you is not necessarily true for them. They do not believe there is anything like absolute truth. Everybody is right and nobody is wrong. Worse yet, many believe if there was truth we could not know it. It would be arrogant to believe that what you think is actually true. Therefore the culture is in a quagmire. If we cannot know anything for sure, then we are lost on a sea of confusion.
What we need today is people who will stop apologizing for the truth. We need people who are not afraid of the truth — people who will seek the truth, know the truth, take a stand for the truth and impart that truth to others. And we need people of conviction. No one is going to accept your teaching if they think you are not convinced that what you are saying is important. Teaching is useless unless we believe that what we are teaching contains the truth. The Bible says, “If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11). Here is the result of teaching: God is praised and glorified. So teaching a Sunday School class is not babysitting, it is the imparting of important spiritual truth that changes lives and brings praise to God through the lives of those who have been taught. That seems pretty important to me.
But in order to teach the truth, you have to be a seeker of the truth. You have to read the word of God and study it. You can’t talk about it without knowing it. I am always amazed at people who can read magazines and large novels, but who have no interest in reading the Bible. I recently read about a young woman who had heard people discussing a book that had recently been published. They were enthusiastic about it, and recommended that she get the book and read it. After much persuasion she bought a copy and read the introduction and the first chapter. It was not an easy book, so she put it on the shelf and didn’t pick it up again. A few months later she was traveling in a foreign country and met a wonderful Christian young man with whom she fell in love. To her surprise, she learned that the young man was the author of the book that she had purchased. When she returned home to the States, she took the book off the shelf and began reading from the very beginning again. This time she read it through to the end, thinking it was the most wonderful book she had ever read. Being in love with the author made all the difference.