What keeps us from taking our Bible teaching for granted? From growing lax when it comes to preparation? What keeps the process from becoming stale and our enthusiasm from waning?
Answers to those questions include the challenges to teachers nestled within the pages of the Bible we communicate. Here are four verses that keep nudging us toward excellence and spur us to give an effort that will please the Lord.
1. “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur stricter judgment” (James 3:1).
God thinks so highly of communicating His Word that He restricts the number of applicants!
Whether we teach in a formal venue, such as a pulpit, or our context is a classroom or small group Bible study, this is a sobering warning.
We’re judged strictly for two reasons:
- We’re personally responsible for applying what we learn as we prepare for Bible lessons. Revelation increases responsibility before God.
2. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
Paul’s words to a vocational leader apply to volunteer teachers, too. Diligent preparation is a command, not an option.
A call to teach the Bible is a call to study it. The more “ownership” we have of the biblical text, the greater the impact because we’ll teach with more accuracy and enthusiasm.
If we teach, perhaps we must say “No” to some other ministries so we’ll have time to study and build relationships with those we teach. I’ve known volunteers who burned out because they took on too many discretionary responsibilities. A wise lady who began teaching a Bible study for women quit her role in the choir because she didn’t think she could prepare adequately and maintain her music ministry.
3. “A pupil is not above his teacher, but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
Imagine: as group leaders, we don’t just communicate Bible truths. To use Larry Richards’ words, we communicate likeness. Learners pick up on the attitude we exhibit toward Scripture, whether or not we love them, and see whether the content we teach has reached our hearts through conviction or encouragement.
Do I want the people I teach to become like me?
According to Jesus, that’s what will happen. That’s why the qualifications to communicate His Word are far broader that just the grace-gift of teaching the Holy Spirit gives us.
4. "The Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14).
Paul shared the gospel with Lydia. But he didn’t open Lydia’s heart to make her receptive to the message of Jesus. “The Lord opened her heart.”
Communicating the Word of God requires a divine-human cooperation. He calls us to share it, but only He can shuttle it to the hearts of people. As a well-known preacher of a past era said, “We can only reach folks’ ears.”
Grasping this truth generates a dependency on the Lord, and compels us to pray that He will do what we cannot: change a life.
Which verse challenges you most as a Bible teacher?
What is another Bible verse that nudges you to work hard at teaching and strive for excellence?