Sermon for August 30, 2020

The World needs (GOOD) Teachers

James 3:1-6

be not — literally, “become not”: taking the office too hastily, and of your own accord.

many — The office is a noble one; but few are fit for it. Few govern the tongue well (Jas_3:2), and only such as can govern it are fit for the office; therefore, “teachers” ought not to be many.

masters — rather, “teachers.” The Jews were especially prone to this presumption. The idea that faith (so called) without works (James 2:14-26) was all that is required, prompted “many” to set up as “teachers,” as has been the case in all ages of the Church. At first all could teach in turns. Even their inspired gifts did not prevent liability to abuse, as James here implies much more of this so when self-constituted teachers have no such miraculous gifts.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can such faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in shalom, keep warm and well fed, ” but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is that? So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe—and shudder! But do you want to know, you empty person, that faith without works is dead? Wasn’t Abraham our father proved righteous by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith worked together with his works, and by the works his faith was made complete. The Scripture was fulfilled that says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness”—and he was called God’s friend. You see that a man is proved righteous by works and not by faith alone. And likewise, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also proved righteous by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:14-26 TLV)

knowing — as all might know.

we … greater condemnation — James in a humble, conciliatory spirit, includes himself: if we teachers abuse the office, we shall receive greater condemnation than those who are mere hearers (compare Luke 12:42-46).

And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their food portion at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whose master finds him so doing when he comes. Truly I tell you, his master will put him in charge of all his possessions. “But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is taking a long time to come,’ and he begins to beat the young slave boys and girls and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know. And he will cut him in two and assign him a place with the unfaithful. (Luke 12:42-46 TLV)

Besides Jesus, who was perfect in every way, who is fit to become a teacher?  James says that “we all stumble in many ways” in verse 2, so how can any person teach?

Where do quarrels and conflicts among you come from? Don’t they come from this, namely your passions that battle within your body parts? You crave and have not. You murder and you envy, yet you cannot get it. You fight and you wage war. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives so you may spend it on your passions. You adulteresses! Don’t you know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that in vain the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit which He made to dwell in us”? But He gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded! Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of Adonai, and He shall lift you up. Do not speak evil against one another, brethren. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the Torah and judges the Torah. But if you judge the Torah, you are not a doer of the Torah, but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge—the One who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you who judges your neighbor? (James 4:1-12 TLV)

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