1. God judges strictly those who communicate His Word.
To read James 3:1 is sobering: “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur stricter judgement.” This warning precedes a section on the dangers of the tongue…and who speaks more than those of us who teach?
One reason for this stricter judgment is the inevitable role of serving as an example when teaching.What we model may be positive or negative, depending on our character and the manner in which we handle the Bible. According to Jesus, “Everyone, when he is fully trained, will be like his teacher.”
We communicate not just biblical content--we communicate likeness!
2. Public Enemy #1 for effective teachers and leaders is pride.
The more compliments we receive for our public performance, the greater our faith is tested:“A man is tested by the praise accorded him” (Prov. 27:21).
For a case study on the peril of pride in leadership, examine 2 Chronicles 26.The chapter narrates the rise and fall of King Uzziah, who sought the Lord early in his reign, and the Lord prospered him.But pride over divine blessings led to moral erosion.
The moral of Uzziah’s story:even blessings provided by God may instill pride. Success—even when God gives it—is a greater test of faith than adversity. To put this point in the words of Ron Dunn, “The number one hindrance to usefulness in ministry may be the fact that we’ve been used.”
Ask someone who won’t coddle you to let you know the minute he or she sees the symptoms of a proud, self-sufficient spirit. And memorize Isaiah 66:2: “To this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”
3. A call to teach the Bible is a call to study.
No verse says it better than 2 Timothy 2:15: “Be diligent to present yourself approved by God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.”
I’ve seen a number of gifted teachers and preachers who communicate with obvious skill and enthusiasm. They receive extremely positive feedback. But the fact is, most church members evaluate a lesson or message based on the communicator’s style, or degree of energy expended, rather than on biblical substance. There’s a subtle tendency to skimp on the hard work of preparation because a relatively shallow message often gets the same praise as a deep one because of the passion of the communicator.
My wife and I heard a sermon by a guest speaker that was delivered with high energy. Illustration and humor complemented the passionate oratory. But when you analyzed the content, it was shallow.
On the way out of the sanctuary, another couple exclaimed, “Wasn’t that a great sermon!” My wife replied, “He delivered it well, didn’t he?!” Then when the couple walked away, my discerning wife nudged me and said, “But he didn’t say anything!”
Whether the context is a classroom or pulpit, great teaching combines passion and a deep ownership of Bible content. The speaker’s giftedness must never substitute for preparation.
When it comes to handling God’s Word, what Bible truths keep you on your toes?