Responsibility of Teaching

Truman Smith
Akron, Ohio

James said, "Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment" (James 3:1 New ASV). There is a definite need today for teachers to take their work seriously. Often some are encouraged to teach, who have no business doing so. James' statement is made, however, for the purpose of causing us to realize the grave responsibility that becomes ours when we undertake the task of teaching God's word. Neither is it my purpose in setting forth these things in any way to discourage one from becoming, nor continuing to be, a teacher of the Bible, for one only need to consider the many passages which urge us all to be teachers. It was carelessness in the use of the tongue on the part of many who might become teachers that called forth the admonition of James.

While it is true that the application here is not limited to the classroom teacher only, we do need to make some observations relative to the teacher in the Bible class situation. The teacher must be aware of the need to bridle his tongue. Too often teachers simply try to occupy the time. Sometimes he will advance a question that he knows could never in a million years be solved to the satisfaction of anyone. Or, he might allow some "crank" to lead the class (including the teacher) in discussions of subjects not even remotely related to the lesson assigned for that session. Hence a lot of time is consumed in wrangling over "foolish questions" (2 Timothy 2:23). Another failing is when the teacher is simply bent on teaching somebody's material. He does not seem to be concerned about teaching the truth; but he is determined to teach the material, and he intends to cover it at all costs. Great is the responsibility of the teacher! Do not get me wrong, I am not opposed to the use of good Bible material; but I am opposed to the abuse of it, and I am afraid many become "slaves" to it, even to the extent that they are "as lost as a goose" without somebody's material. That is the kind of teacher who has no business trying to teach! The teachers responsibility is faithfully to teach the truth.

Paul said to Timothy, "As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when 1 went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do" (1 Timothy 1:3, 4). He also wrote the Galatians, "But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed" (Galatians 1:8). Again to Timothy he wrote, "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Timothy 4:16). Great is the responsibility of the teacher!

Despite the fact that the New Testament abounds with warnings and admonitions respecting the teaching of the word of God, there are those who seem not to take such work seriously. People in many quarters have grown so used to-their teachers always disregarding these matters, that they never expect them to do any better. Indeed, they have become so spoiled because of such irresponsible teachers, that they have lost a desire for real meat for the soul. Then, when a teacher comes along who takes his work seriously, and really wants to go to heaven after death, his teaching is just too dull, monotonous and just plain boring. But Peter said, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:11). The apostle Paul said, "For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, especially they of the circumcision: whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake" (Titus 1: 10,1 1). Teachers, let's take our work seriously.

TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 12, p. 1 September 1966