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When you teach, be gentle

Teaching God’s word is a great privilege and a very valuable ministry because it can result in saving souls from hell. This was the very last point James wanted to leave us with, and therefore something to think about a little more intently.

Jas 5:19-20 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

For our teaching to be effective, we must teach with gentleness.

Jas 3:13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.

A wise person is gentle. A good teacher is gentle. This gentleness is in contrast with jealousy and selfishness – we see this as we continue reading beyond this verse. When we teach people solely for their benefit instead of ours then we can be gentle.

To be gentle means to not try to force people to believe what you think they should believe, and to not expect them to believe you immediately. Give them freedom and time.

Paul had a lot of experience teaching people the things of God. In the beginning, perhaps he got into a lot of heated debates, eager to prove himself correct. But later he learnt the wisdom of kindness, patience and gentleness. He realized that God has to open their eyes and they have to be willing to repent in order to understand the truth. He summarized his learning in 2 Tm 2:23-26.

2 Tm 2:23-26 But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Those who are really wise will learn from Paul’s experience. If you’re like me, you’ll learn the hard way, and then see the wisdom of what Paul said. In any case, it is better to learn somehow than to never learn at all.

So then, to summarize – if you want to be a teacher in the church you must be gentle, kind, patient, and not quarrelsome.

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