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James 3:1 says,「Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.」A teacher is a profession to teach people and they put value on their words. It also requires good judgment. In my previous message, we read James 1:19,「Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,」In the following verse 26, it says「Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.」(James 1:26 NIV)
James points out the power of words in Chapter 1. Anyone who wants to be a teacher must be able to control his or her own words. In Chapter 3, he focuses on the power of words. He points out that words require action. The author encourages us to be believers who can control our words. Jesus also said in Matthew 12:37,「For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”」
James 3:2 says,「We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.」A perfect person described here is someone who is well-balanced and mature enough both spiritually and morally.
Mature people are well aware of the positive and negative aspects of the power of words. James expresses words as a tongue, and he first points out that the tongue has the power to move the entire body like a steering wheel of a boat. But the negative side of words is it has a tragic power. The power of words can be terrifying just like burning a large forest, and it could ruin our life, bring the poison of death. We learned last time that faith without deeds is useless. Word requires action, and faith without appropriate words as believers is also useless.
James 3: 9-10 says,「With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.」
Do you remember that man was made in the image of God? It is said that God himself was very happy to see the creation of man (Genesis 1:31). Let us be aware that it is a great sin to curse those whom God has said to be good.
James 3:13 says,「Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.」
James uses this expression of “wise and understanding” to mention about teachers again. He says that qualification of teachers is to show meek actions in their good and humble lives. He talks about good way of living in verse 17,「But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.」(James 3:17 NIV)
The first word, pure is a way of life free from jealousy and hostility. Then following words “peace-loving, considerate, submissive” represent the path of those who met Christ and live by applying the virtues of Christ in their lives. Furthermore, the word “full of mercy and good fruit” shows a way of life in which they can sympathize with the sadness and suffering of others. Impartial is a way of life that does not discriminate against people. The idea of the author is hidden here that these qualities are required in the lives of teachers.
James 3:8 says,「Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.」Up to this point, James has been explaining that faith must be shown by deeds. Seeds bear fruit just like our faith is revealed by our action. Peacemakers sow in peace. In Jewish society, it seems that parents’ big dreams were to make their children rabbis (teachers). We met Jesus, repented of our sins, our lives were changed and we started a new life. Acts 13: 1 describes how the Church of Antioch was given several teachers. God provides workers needed for His church. There are people in every age who encounter Jesus, their lives are changed, and they live in reconciliation. James gives a warning to anyone who wants to become a teacher, but he does not deny becoming a teacher. We shouldn’t forget that James was also one of the teachers in church. Maybe God wants you to be peacemakers who sow in peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. Let us manage the words that we speak wisely, seek wisdom from above. Jesus says in Matthew 5:9, 「Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.」We want to be entrusted with the privilege of being called children of God.