The Bible Speaks
“Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall incur a stricter judgment.” James 3:1
Most of us remember a teacher that had a profound effect upon us growing up. If we are honest, we would have to admit that most of our teachers, in school, in church and in life, have done much to shape our values and our thinking. That is what teachers do. It is precisely because of their influence that the Apostle James issues his warning in the third chapter of his letter. All of us naturally believe what we are taught by those in authority over us. We can choose to reject it, but mostly we accept it, because of the position of influence given to the one teaching us.
Teachers are not always educators. We are taught by authors of the books we read, actors and newscasters in the programs we watch, friends we admire and bosses we work for. Because of their power to influence us, it is imperative that we choose teachers who will guide us to the truth and not lead us astray from right thinking and sound principles. We may not choose our school teachers, but we can choose the rest of those who will shape our minds and mold our values.
Another passage in the Bible says this about Jesus: “they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority and not as their scribes.” (Mark 1:22) The teachers of Jesus’ day rarely made bold truth claims but almost always quoted someone else for their authority. Not Jesus! He said “truly, truly I SAY unto you…” He claimed to be right in all His statements; a bold declaration for anyone to make. Imagine a college professor saying he was the ultimate authority in what he said. He would not have his job very long.
Jesus made such claims, but also backed them up with proof of His divine authority. In the same chapter of Mark cited earlier, the gospel writer notes that Jesus cast out a demon, healed a woman of fever and then healed many with various diseases and demons. In other words, He backed up his authoritative claim on truth with miracles that could only be performed by God, the creator and giver of all truth. His demonstration of divine power was His PhD. His perfect character was His validation of the truths He taught.
The Bible speaks of the influence of teachers and their potential for good and for harm. Choose your teachers wisely. Recognize their profound effect on your thinking. And remember, there is one who will never deceive you nor lead you astray. He is the way, the TRUTH and the life. Listen to Him and let His words enter your soul. You will never be disappointed.
The Rev. Bruce MacInnes is pastor of Turner’s Chapel.