Sit Down and Shut Up!

James 3:1-12–“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. Behold also the ships, which though they be 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. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 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; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.”

            This morning I was delighted to discover a Christian ministry I greatly respect had started an online magazine.  However, I was dismayed that it isn’t merely a presentation of Bible teaching content, but instead it’s a blog, allowing readers to comment on every article, right on that same page.  The two articles I read were polluted by the posting of reader comments.  Doesn’t every good magazine have a section for letters?  Of course, but everyone who reads those letters sees them on pages separate from the main content, and they know those letters don’t necessarily carry the same authority or importance as  the articles.  Unlike print magazines, blogs allow immediate response, which lends importance to that response and is seen today as advantageous.  Blogs turn the Internet into a democracy, where popular opinion is elevated to sacred truth.  This doesn’t belong in the realm of Bible teaching.

            Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not against responding to Bible teaching with questions or comments.  I’ve done my share of talking back, sometimes out of turn.  That’s my point.  There must be a proper time and place.  How would it be if every sermon preached at church were followed by audience members giving their thoughts from the same pulpit from which the pastor preached?  Wouldn’t you wonder who’s right or in authority?

            Isn’t one person’s opinion as valid as another’s?  Not where Scripture is concerned.  James says, “…be not many masters.”  The NIV says, “Not many of you should presume to be teachers…”  Anyone who teaches God’s holy word will stand to give account before the Lord one day (1 Cor. 3:12-15).  That’s a sobering thought.  Remember that if you’re thinking of one day leading a Bible study.  James also warns of the volatility of the tongue.  An old saying says something like: You can remain silent and people will wonder if you’re a fool, but open your mouth and you’ll remove all doubt.  Wouldn’t it be frightening if an airline mechanic or heart surgeon handled their jobs as we do the Bible? We need them to get it right.   Handling and teaching the Bible is serious business for the simple reason that it is indeed the Word of God.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Bible Study, Christian Life, Thoughts from John

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