1 Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
James puts things bluntly about the seriousness of being a good teacher but this is actually nothing compared to what Jesus had already stated before. Matthew 18:6 says,
But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
The point is that what you pass along to the next generation is incredibly important. It would be easy to read this verse and think that it’s not a problem because you aren’t going to stand before a Sunday school class or small group Bible study and teach the Bible. And that is fine. Not everyone is gifted in this manner and James’ warning applies to these situations.
I won’t pretend to put myself in the place of God because I don’t know the hearts of people but there are going to be some high profile “Reverends” that we commonly see on tv whom are going to be very surprised on Judgment Day. There are people who are trusted because of the position and title and who have led people astray out of ignorance, arrogance, and sometimes downright sinfulness. And the bigger a platform that these people have been given to teach from, the more severely they are going to be judged.
But this doesn’t mean everyone else is off the hook. Unless you live your life like a hermit and make sure that you have no interaction with other people, you are a teacher. Parents are not responsible for the choices that their children make. I have an older friend whose teenage son dealt drugs for a short time. That obviously was not a decision that the parent made. But parents are responsible for teaching their children right from wrong and instilling proper values in them. If the child rejects these values, then that is on the child’s head and not the parents.
You are a teacher virtually everywhere that you go because you are a representative of Christ. What you approve of and disapprove of teaches others about Christianity. The way you treat other people teaches them the value for life that a Christian has.
When you go to work or visit a friend or call a relative on the phone, they probably know that you are a Christian. If they don’t, why don’t they? You don’t have to have your car covered in bumper stickers to let everyone know that you are a Christian. People should know that you are Christian by the way you act and that you are different from other people. You don’t have to tell everyone. We are teachers by the example that we set, whether it is good or bad. If you listen to what James and Jesus have to say on the issue, you should be very careful to set a good example.