Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. (James 3:1-12 ESV)
My father-in-law likes to keep a fire going in his fireplace in the winter. I enjoy going over to his house and splitting the firewood for him. Apparently it’s a huge event in our family because the last time I set out to split wood my children and nieces were watching me… By watching me I mean they sat on top of a blanket eating snacks and drinking hot chocolate. On this particular occasion I was working on a rough log and had to get out a wedge and sledgehammer to free my ax. I’ll be honest, I’m a bit uncoordinated and I hit my thumb with the full force of the sledge hammer. I yelled out at the top of my lungs, “Praise God!”
I’m sure there were lots of other words I could have used, but I’m thankful that on this day I chose to shout out praise to our Maker rather than to shout out curses. James says that being a teacher is a big deal because what is in your heart will come out of your mouth. Teachers are models and examples for us to imitate and follow. Teachers have a great capacity to lead others towards growth in Christ and also lead others away from Christ. We should all aspire to control our tongues and be great Christ followers. We should also be willing to learn in humble submission before we become teachers.