My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. 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)
Many of us Bible preachers and teachers have a favorite passage to speak upon. James 3:1-2 might be the most unpopular passage of many preachers and teachers.
It tells us that Bible preachers and teachers will receive a stricter judgment. We will be judged on a higher, stricter standard. James knew that he was included in that stricter judgment; he wrote, “we shall receive a stricter judgment.”
This shouldn’t make us despair, but it should make us serious about our work. It should especially make us serious about our words, because James then immediately added “If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.”
There is a lot that could be said about that statement, but let’s just think about this: if I am a Bible preacher or teacher, I regard my words as an instrument of God’s work in this world. Therefore, I should take care with my words, and not only when I am preaching. We who proclaim God’s word have a special responsibility to speak in a way that gives God glory.
Let’s rely on God for the desire and the strength to not stumble in word, to grow in this area of godliness. It’s easy for us as preachers and teachers to sin with our words.
– We stumble in word about ourselves, with our boasting, exaggeration, and selective reporting.
– We stumble in word about others, with our criticism, gossip, slander, cruelty, two-facedness, and anger; or with flattery and insincere words meant to gain favor.
– We stumble in word with impure or profane speech, speaking with a vocabulary that shows very little holiness.
Here’s a prayer: “Lord, for Jesus’ sake, forgive me for the times when I stumble in word. Give me a desire for greater wisdom and holiness in what I say when I’m preaching and when I’m not, and the strength to grow in this area.”
That might help us to do better with a stricter judgment!
Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik