|Volume 20 Number 5 May 2018||
Teaching the Bible is a wonderful privilege—whether teaching children or adults. It is God’s way of expanding the borders of the kingdom. How different is true Christianity from other religions in that respect! Islam is spread by the sword. Catholicism and Protestantism conquered nations by the sword. However, the sword of the Christian “is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). The marching orders of the church are “go teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus said, “They shall all be taught of God…” (John 6:44-45). Nehemiah stated the objective of every teacher. “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8).
It is a privilege to be a Bible teacher because not everyone can do so, for many reasons: improper temperament, lack of knowledge and skills, inability to practice what he or she preaches, and lack of zeal for the task, to name a few. James 3:1 says, “be not many of you teachers, knowing ye shall receive the greater judgment.” Teachers are special people—love them, honor them, stand with them and support them for their work’s sake.
Teaching is a privilege because of the One for whom we labor. God is the Bible School Superintendent. We teach what He desires. How marvelous and wonderful that God should want to use frail, many times inept, human beings to accomplish the greatest task in the world—the teaching of others to the saving of their souls! How privileged we are to be “fellow laborers together with God” (1 Corinthians 3:9).
It is a privilege to be a teacher because of what we are striving to accomplish. To win the hearts, minds and souls of men, women, boys and girls to Christ is the teacher’s goal. “Jesus came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). This is also our task (2 Timothy 2:2). Teachers change our communities and the way people live. Their example and training spill over from the classroom into our homes, communities and the lives of individuals. God wills it so. This is an expression of our light shining and our salt influencing those about us (Matthew 5:13, 16).
Every teacher must remember the overall goal is to bring the soul home to God. The classroom is your pulpit. The end result of your efforts is salvation! The lifetime spent in teaching others in the classroom, in the pulpit or in the home must end in increasing the kingdom. We should not be satisfied as teachers until we can see our students living the first and second commandments to “love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, with all they strength” and “to love thy neighbor as thy self” (Mark 12:29-31).
Teaching is a privilege because of its great rewards. One of those rewards is inner peace. You are fighting on the Lord’s side in the greatest of all battles. What satisfaction to know that you have prepared others to fight, tended their wounds and helped them win a victory over the devil. There is also the knowledge that you are doing what you can to make the world a better place: giving peace, hope, safety and harmony to a world that is seeking to destroy itself. Then, there is the ultimate reward of the faithful. “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Matthew 25:21).
Oh, teachers of God’s Word do not despair! Yours is the greatest task on earth. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). Keep on keeping on! As G.P. Bowser, the great black preacher, said about the potential of his students, “He could be a diamond in the rough, and with a little polishing a diamond sure enough!”
Fresh Every Morning
Charles C. Pugh III
One of the joys of summertime is fresh garden vegetables. Fresh green beans, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers and sweetcorn; now there is as good a meal as there is! To me, the only thing to make it better would be some fresh fried okra, a pitcher of iced sweet tea and fresh blackberry cobbler!
When vegetables are fresh, they are better. They look better, taste better and are better for you. Fresh picked, that is when they are best. Thinking of such, I fondly recall a summertime experience I enjoyed with each of my three children as they were growing up. Each took his or her turn selling fresh sweetcorn during the months of July and August. Early every morning, I would travel to Belpre or Reedsville, Ohio and arrive just as the farmhands had returned from the fields with fresh-picked corn. I would load a day’s supply for the kids to sell at their roadside stand in downtown Vienna, West Virginia, next to their grandmother’s flower shop. It was a good summer job for the kids, and there was plenty of fresh sweetcorn anytime we wanted it for supper! Selling the corn was easy. It just had to be fresh—fresh every morning.
The Bible says, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). These words were written soon after the fall of Jerusalem (586 B.C.). The Book of Lamentations is the tearstained portrait of a once proud Jerusalem. It is the funeral of a city that was destroyed because of sin (Lamentations 1:9; 3:42; 5:16). However, in the midst of the ruins of the city, there was the affirmation of the Lord’s mercies and compassions. God is good (Lamentations 3:25)! He will not cast off forever but will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies (Lamentations 3:31-32).
Paul said, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we will reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9). The figure is that of the farm laborer succumbing in the field under the hot sun. He plows, plants, cultivates, fertilizes, fights the weeds, kills insects and counters drought. Under the hot sun, he is tempted to quit. Successful farming and gardening require constant toil and continued effort no matter how hot it gets in the field or how great the temptation may be to quit.
Similarly, successful (i.e., faithful) Christian living demands “patient continuance in doing good” (Romans 2:7). Sometimes the heat in the field of service is intense. We may think we cannot “plow another row,” but we must remember that “in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9). “Lose heart” means “to be utterly spiritless, to be wearied out, exhausted” (Thayer 166, 195).
The “agriculture” of the Spirit (i.e., well doing, walking in the Spirit, living in the Spirit) takes our total energy and perseverance. The field may be hot, but we must plod onward—sowing, cultivating, watering and weeding. All of the work that is done under the hot July and August sun of life will be worth it for “we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” As Lenski says, “When the blessed harvest season arrives, we shall wonder why we ever thought of getting tired and of relaxing; to have waited a hundred times as long will then seem to us no reason at all for thinking of retiring” (310).
Whenever life goes stale, zeal cools, faith weakens and our spirit is dampened, the mercies and compassions of God are still there. They are new (fresh) every morning. We need to claim them daily (2 Corinthians 4:16) with the prayer. “Turn us back to You, O Lord, and we will be restored; Renew our days as of old” (Lamentations 5:21). Heaven will surely be worth it all!
Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians to the Ephesians and to the Philippians. 1937. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1961.
Thayer, Joseph Henry. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. 1962. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973.