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Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Teachers ~ Various

[i]Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.[/i] Jas 3:1 ESV

[b]Jas 3:1-12 -[/b]
The foregoing chapter shows how unprofitable and dead faith is without works. It is plainly intimated by what this chapter first goes upon that such a faith is, however, apt to make men conceited and magisterial in their tempers and their talk. Those who set up faith in the manner the former chapter condemns are most apt to run into those sins of the tongue which this chapter condemns. And indeed the best need to be cautioned against a dictating, censorious, mischievous use of their tongues. We are therefore taught,

I. Not to use our tongues so as to lord it over others: [i]My brethren, be not many masters,[/i] etc., Jam_3:1. These words do not forbid doing what we can to direct and instruct others in the way of their duty or to reprove them in a Christian way for what is amiss; but we must not affect to speak and act as those who are continually assuming the chair, we must not prescribe to one another, so as to make our own sentiments a standard by which to try all others, because God gives various gifts to men, and expects from each according to that measure of light which he gives. “Therefore by not many [i]masters[/i]” (or [i]teachers[/i], as some read it); “do not give yourselves the air of teachers, imposers, and judges, but rather speak with the humility and spirit of learners; do not censure one another, as if all must be brought to your standard.” This is enforced by two reasons.

1. Those who thus set up for judges and censurers [i]shall receive the greater condemnation.[/i] Our judging others will but make our own judgment the more strict and severe, Mat_7:1, Mat_7:2. Those who are curious to spy out the faults of others, and arrogant in passing censures upon them, may expect that God will be as extreme in marking what they say and do amiss.

2. Another reason given against such acting the master is because we are all sinners: [i]In many things we offend all[/i], Jam_3:2. Were we to think more of our own mistakes and offenses, we should be less apt to judge other people. While we are severe against what we count offensive in others, we do not consider how much there is in us which is justly offensive to them. Self-justifiers are commonly self-deceivers. We are all guilty before God; and those who vaunt it over the frailties and infirmities of others little think how many things they offend in themselves. Nay, perhaps their magisterial deportment, and censorious tongues, may prove worse than any faults they condemn in others. Let us learn to be severe in judging ourselves, but charitable in our judgments of other people.

II. We are taught to govern our tongue so as to prove ourselves perfect and upright men, and such as have an entire government over ourselves: [i]If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.[/i] It is here implied that he whose conscience is affected by tongue-sins, and who takes care to avoid them, is an upright man, and has an undoubted sign of true grace. But, on the other hand, [i]if a man seemeth to be religious[/i] (as was declared in the first chapter) [i]and bridleth not his tongue[/i], whatever profession he makes, [i]that man's religion is vain.[/i] Further, he that offends not in word will not only prove himself a sincere Christian, but a very much advanced and improved Christian. For the wisdom and grace which enable him to rule his tongue will enable him also to rule all his actions. This we have illustrated by two comparisons:

- 1. The governing and guiding of all the motions of a horse, by the bit which is put into his mouth: [i]Behold, we put bits into the horses' mouths, that they may obey us, and we turn about their whole body[/i], Jam_3:3. There is a great deal of brutish fierceness and wantonness in us. This shows itself very much by the tongue: so that this must be bridled; according to Psa_39:1, [i]I will keep my mouth with a bridle (or, I will bridle my mouth) while the wicked is before me.[/i] The more quick and lively the tongue is, the more should we thus take care to govern it. Otherwise, as an unruly and ungovernable horse runs away with his rider, or throws him, so an unruly tongue will serve those in like manner who have no command over it. Whereas, let resolution and watchfulness, under the influence of the grace of God, bridle the tongue, and then all the motions and actions of the whole body will be easily guided and overruled.

2. The governing of a ship by the right management of the helm: [i]Behold also the ships, which though they are so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things,[/i] Jam_3:4, Jam_3:5. As the helm is a very small part of the ship, so is the tongue a very small part of the body: but the right governing of the helm or rudder will steer and turn the ship as the governor pleases; and a right management of the tongue is, in a great measure, the government of the whole man. There is a wonderful beauty in these comparisons, to show how things of small bulk may yet be of vast use. And hence we should learn to make the due management of our tongues more our study, because, though they are little members, they are capable of doing a great deal of good or a great deal of hurt. Therefore,

III. We are taught to dread an unruly tongue as one of the greatest and most pernicious evils. It is compared to a little fire placed among a great deal of combustible matter, which soon raises a flame and consumes all before it: [i]Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity[/i], etc., Jam_3:5, Jam_3:6. There is such an abundance of sin in the tongue that it may be called [i]a world of iniquity.[/i] How many defilements does it occasion! How many and dreadful flames does it kindle! [i]So is the tongue among the members that it defileth the whole body[/i]. Observe hence, There is a great pollution and defilement in sins of the tongue. Defiling passions are kindled, vented, and cherished by this unruly member. And the whole body is often drawn into sin and guilt by the tongue. Therefore Solomon says, [i]Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin[/i], Ecc_5:6. The snares into which men are sometimes led by the tongue are insufferable to themselves and destructive of others. [i]It setteth on fire the course of nature.[/i] The affairs of mankind and of societies are often thrown into confusion, and all is on a flame, by the tongues of men. Some read it, [i]all our generations are set on fire by the tongue.[/i] There is no age of the world, nor any condition of life, private or public, but will afford examples of this. [i]And it is set on fire of hell.[/i] Observe hence, Hell has more to do in promoting of fire of the tongue than men are generally aware of. It is from some diabolical designs, that men's tongues are inflamed. The devil is expressly called a liar, a murderer, an accuser of the brethren; and, whenever men's tongues are employed in any of these ways, they are set on fire of hell. The Holy Ghost indeed once descended in [i]cloven tongues as of fire[/i], Acts 2. And, where the tongue is thus guided and wrought upon by a fire from heaven, there it kindleth good thoughts, holy affections, and ardent devotions. But when it is set on fire of hell, as in all undue heats it is, there it is mischievous, producing rage and hatred, and those things which serve the purposes of the devil. As therefore you would dread fires and flames, you should dread contentions, revilings, slanders, lies, and every thing that would kindle the fire of wrath in your own spirit or in the spirits of others. But,

IV. We are next taught how very difficult a thing it is to govern the tongue: [i]For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed, of mankind. But the tongue can no man tame[/i], Jam_3:7, Jam_3:8. As if the apostle had said, “Lions, and the most savage beasts, as well as horses and camels, and creatures of the greatest strength, have been tamed and governed by men: so have birds, notwithstanding their wildness and timorousness, and their wings to bear them up continually out of our reach: even serpents, notwithstanding all their venom and all their cunning, have been made familiar and harmless: and things in the sea have been taken by men, and made serviceable to them. And these creatures have not been subdued nor tamed by miracle only (as the lions crouched to Daniel, instead of devouring him, and ravens fed Elijah, and a whale carried Jonah through the depths of the sea to dry land), but what is here spoken of is something commonly done; not only hath been tamed, but is tamed of mankind. Yet the tongue is worse than these, and cannot be tamed by the power and art which serves to tame these things. No man can tame the tongue without supernatural grace and assistance.” The apostle does not intend to represent it as a thing impossible, but as a thing extremely difficult, which therefore will require great watchfulness, and pains, and prayer, to keep it in due order. And sometimes all is too little; [i]for it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.[/i] Brute creatures may be kept within certain bounds, they may be managed by certain rules, and even serpents may be so used as to do not hurt with all their poison; but the tongue is apt to break through all bounds and rules, and to spit out its poison on one occasion or other, notwithstanding the utmost care. So that not only does it need to be watched, and guarded, and governed, as much as an unruly beast, or a hurtful and poisonous creature, but much more care and pains will be needful to prevent the mischievous outbreakings and effects of the tongue. However,

V. We are taught to think of the use we make of our tongues in religion and in the service of God, and by such a consideration to keep it from cursing, censuring, and every thing that is evil on other occasions: [i]Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, who are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be,[/i] Jam_3:9, Jam_3:10. How absurd is it that those who use their tongues in prayer and praise should ever use them in cursing, slandering, and the like! If we bless God as our Father, it should teach us to speak well of, and kindly to, all who bear his image. That tongue which addresses with reverence the divine Being cannot, without the greatest inconsistency, turn upon fellow-creatures with reviling brawling language. It is said of the seraphim that praise God, [i]they dare not bring a railing accusation.[/i] And for men to reproach those who have not only the image of God in their natural faculties, but are renewed after the image of God by the grace of the gospel: this is a most shameful contradiction to all their pretensions of honouring the great Original. [i]These things ought not so to be[/i]; and, if such considerations were always at hand, surely they would not be. Piety is disgraced in all the shows of it, if there be not charity. That tongue confutes itself which one while pretends to adore the perfections of God, and to refer all things to him, and another while will condemn even good men if they do not just come up to the same words or expressions used by it. Further, to fix this thought, the apostle shows that contrary effects from the same causes are monstrous, and not be found in nature, and therefore cannot be consistent with grace: [i]Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig-tree bear olive-berries, or a vine, figs? Or doth the same spring yield both salt water and fresh?[/i] Jam_3:11, Jam_3:12. True religion will not admit of contradictions; and a truly religious man can never allow of them either in his words or his actions. How many sins would this prevent, and recover men from. to put them upon being always consistent with themselves!

Matthew Henry
[i](Italics extant)[/i]

Mike Balog

 2008/4/17 9:47Profile

Joined: 2007/11/19
Posts: 159

 Re: Teachers ~ Various

Amen,and those who have ears to hear..hear what the Spirit is saying.May we all hear and take to heart sound doctrine,by Your Spirit,Lord God!

G.M. (Destiny) Sweet

 2008/4/17 17:16Profile

Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 9192
Santa Clara, CA

 Re: Teachers ~ Various

[i]Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.[/i]

Here the apostle diverts to another matter, reinforcing what he had said in the first chapter about the evil of the tongue. However, this discourse is joined on to the previous one with good reason. People who vainly boast of their own faith are the most apt to censure others; and those who claim to be Christians are likely to take the greatest liberty in rigid and bitter reflections on the errors of their brothers.

[b]Not many of you should presume to be teachers.[/b] The word translated [b]teachers[/b] has various meanings. Sometimes it means absolute authority in the church. In this sense Christ alone is a teacher (Matthew 23:10); his word is law. Sometimes the word means a subordinate teaching and explanation of God's truth; and those who have this task are called "Israel's teacher[s]" (see John 3:10). Sometimes the word has the worst sense, that of a censorious reprover, one who occupies a chair of arrogance, magisterially inveighing against other people's practices; and this is what it means here. Why does the apostle choose this expression?

(1) It shows that he is not talking about authorized reproof. God has set some people in the church to be masters of manners-for example, the teacher and ecclesiastical magistrate. But because God has allowed a few, do not let everyone be a teacher or turn censurer: [b]Not many of you.[/b] We are all inclined, but this itch must be killed.

(2) It shows that he is not forbidding private, brotherly admonitions, such as proceed from Christian care and love, but the censorious sort of reproving that was managed with as much sharpness as a man would use to his slave.
[b]My brothers[/b]. Though the term is familiar and usual with James, it has a special emphasis here.

(1) Good men are often surprised and are too free with the failings of others.

(2) He does not want to be too rigid himself, and therefore he tempers his reproof with sweetness.

(3) The word has the force of an argument: [b]brothers[/b] should not affect mastery over each other.

[b]Because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly[/b]. This is the first reason the apostle gives against the pride of criticizing, which is based on a consideration of the danger of sin or the severity of judgment following it, either from men—critics usually have their own measure used against them (see Matthew 7:1-2)—or from God. Who can expect pardon from someone who is severe to others? See Matthew 18:32-33. I understand this to mean chiefly judgment and condemnation from God, which is all the more severe to critics, for three reasons:

(1) The justice of retaliation. We condemn others, and God condemns us. We are severe on their failings; how can we expect God to be merciful to ours?

(2) Because God is the avenger of injuries (Romans 12:19), and among them the greatest is blasting the reputation of other people.

(3) A critic's sins are more aggravated because of the garb of indignation that he seems to put on against others: see Romans 2:1. In censuring others we only pronounce our own judgment, which the Scripture plainly represents to us in the well-known instances of David (2 Samuel 12), Ahab (1 Kings 20:39-42), etc.

[b]Notes on Verse 1[/b]

Note 1. The best people need something to dissuade them from proud censuring. [b]The apostle says, Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers[/b], and afterwards he includes himself in the number—we who teach. It is an attractive evil; it suits pride and self-love and feeds conceit. All these evils are in the best of God's children. In 1 John 2:16 "boasting of what he has and does" is mentioned last because it is the last to be mortified; it grows with the decrease of other sins and thrives on their decay. So "bear with my word of exhortation" (Hebrews 13:22). We sin and are not aware of censuring; pride rages when it is crossed. Hear such matters patiently; James is speaking to [b]brothers: Not many of you should presume to be teachers.[/b]

Note 2. To censure other people is to assume the role of teacher over them. All teaching, especially reproof, is an act of power; that is why the apostle forbids it to women (1 Corinthians 14:34), because they cannot have power over a man. So when you are about to censure someone, check it with this thought: "Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls" (Romans 14:4). It wrongs God if I put myself in his place; it wrongs my neighbor to claim a power over him that God never gave me.

Note 3. Christians should not affect this mastership over their brothers. You may admonish, reprove, warn, but it should not be in a masterly way. How is that?

(1) When we do it out of pride and self-conceit, as if we thought ourselves more just, holy, wise, etc. The Pharisee speaks as if he were above common weakness. Rather, "restore him gently. But watch yourself" (Galatians 6:1). We are all involved in the same state of frailty.

(2) When we do it as vaunting over their infirmities and frailties, to shame them rather than restore them. Ham laughed at Noah's drunkenness. This does not suggest a hatred of sin but envy or malice against the person. Paul's attitude was truly Christian: "I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ" (Philippians 3:18). Censures are full of passion, but Christian reproofs are full of compassion. This is the difference between reproving out of pride and out of love and charity.

(3) When the censure is unmerciful, and we remit nothing of extreme severity—when, indeed, we leave out extenuating circumstances. The censure should be extended no further than the facts. Jealousy collects more than is offered, but "love does not delight in evil" (1 Corinthians 13:6). It is against all law to be judge and accuser too and to hunt out an offense and then censure it.

(4) When we infringe Christian liberty and condemn others for things that do not matter. This indeed is to lay snares on the conscience and is a wrong not so much to our brothers as to God's own law, which we judge as if it were an imperfect rule (see 4:11). There is great latitude in habits and in food, and as long as rules of sobriety and modesty are not violated, we cannot censure but must leave the heart to God.

(5) When people do not consider what goes with charity as well as what will agree with truth. There may be censure where there is no slander. Many religious people think they are safe if they speak of others only what is true. But this is not all. Every evil must not be divulged; some must be covered with the cloak of love. There may be malice in reporting the truth. If there is no ill intention, such prattle will come under the heading of idle words, for which we are responsible.

(6) When we do it to get ourselves a better reputation by reporting their scandals. In the whole matter we are to be motivated by love and to aim at the Lord's glory. So, be careful that your reproofs are not censures; they must not be offered censoriously or magisterially, coming from pride rather than love. Envy often goes under the guise of zeal; we need to be careful, especially in times of public disagreement.
For remedies:

(1) Cherish a humble sense of your own frailty. Other people fall sadly and foully, but what are we? We were as bad (see Titus 3:2-3); we may even be worse (see 1 Corinthians 10:12). Bernard tells of a man who, hearing of a fallen brother, fell into a bitter weeping, crying out, "He is fallen today, and I may tomorrow."

(2) Exchange a sin for a duty: "If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray" (1 John 5:16). This will be a holy way to spend your zeal with the most profit.

Note 4. [b]You know that we.[/b] A remedy for vain censure is to consider ourselves (see Galatians 6:1). How is it with us? Gracious hearts inquire most into themselves and are most severe against their own corruptions.

(1) They are most inquisitive into their own sins. The fool is always looking elsewhere; his eyes are like the windows of the temple, broad on the outside, narrow on the inside. He is curious to sift other people's lives but does not care to reform his own. But with good people it is different; they find enough deceit in their own hearts to use up all their care and thoughts.

(2) They are most severe against themselves. A good heart is ready to throw the first stone against itself (see John 8:4-5). Others can inveigh with much heat against other people's sins and indulgently cherish their own.

Note 5. Rash and undue judging of others, when we are guilty ourselves, makes us liable to greater judgment. The apostle works on this assumption. Sharp critics need to be careful or they will draw a hard law on themselves and in judging others will pronounce their own doom. Their sins are done knowingly, and the more they know, the more they will be punished. Ignorant people have the advantage that they have a cooler hell. So, do not carry on prescribing burdens for other people; that is a cheap zeal. The phrase about being [b]judged more strictly[/b] is also applied to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:14, because of their hypocrisy. So those who criticize, whether because it is their job or out of love, need to look to themselves. Your first task should begin at your own hearts, and then you will carry on the duty more boldly and positively.

[i]An Exposition of the Epistle of James[/i]
Thomas Manton

([i]Embolden words extant[/i])

Mike Balog

 2008/4/18 10:25Profile

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