By Patrick Hawthorne
My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. (James 3:1-2 NKJV)
Verse 1 of James 3 strikes fear into my heart. The context of the words, ‘stricter judgment’ has a genetive association (same or similar) to what Jesus expressed when He said, “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. 14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.” (Matt 23:13-13 KJV bold/underline mine).
I have been meditating on the Book of Malachi lately. Written mainly to the priest, it is an applicable lesson for all who assume the position of spiritual authority, whether great or small. It is a lesson for those of us who teach through our words both written or spoken. It is the lesson of “Live what you preach, teach, write…and yes, blog.” It is the lesson of the Lord saying, “I have loved you,” but then brings harsh criticism against the leaders for going through the motions of worship yet who deny God by the attitude of their hearts.
“Let not many of you become teachers.” I cringe when I think of the times that I have stood before others, teaching the Word of God, knowing that I only gave a small portion of my time to the Lord in preparation. I cringe at the times I halfheartedly prayed or worshiped, just going through the motions for the sake of appearances. I cringe as I think of those whom I may have caused to stumble because I was too lazy to wait upon the Lord for a message of His choosing. I cringe at the times I have written a word of teaching but have not sought the Lord or prayed that my words would be used to His glory.
Ah, but I like what I read in Malachi 4:2-3, “But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings; and you shall go out and grow fat like stall-fed calves. 3 You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,” Says the Lord of hosts.
There is healing that is available. Healing of what? Healing of hearts that have been out of tune with God’s heart; healing through repentance and a course correction. As a warning to the teachers, I say, do not take lightly the position that has been given you by the Lord. Judge yourself now. Seek the Lord now and make the proper course corrections. Be blessed.