James 3:1 tells us "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness."
I preached a message last Sunday that dealt largely with the issue of how teachers in the church should be viewed. My text was 1 Corinthians 4:1-5, you can view my notes on my other blog if you'd like: www.4hisword.blogspot.com. The text gave two example of how teachers should be regarded. One was that they should be viewed as servants of Christ and two was that they should be regarded as stewards of the mysteries of God.
Christians teachers are given the responsibility of making the truths of the Scripture known to all. It is their stewardship given to them by their master who is Christ. A steward is a person given responsibility to care for the valuable property of another. In the case of teachers, God bestows a stewardship of His word to them. It is their responsibility to tend to and care for this property and manage it to the gain of their master.
When I think about the fact that I am a teacher of God's word, quite frankly it frightens me a bit. Because I genuinely care about getting it right. I often find myself aprehensive when sitting down to work on my next sermon, sometimes putting it off for longer than I should. I think it is because it really scares me to think about messing it up. I know no one is perfect and we are going to make mistakes, but I really want to honor God, my master, when I preach and teach His word. It's not a responsibility to be taken lightly.
One reason that teachers, stewards of the mysteries (truths) of God, are judged more strictly is because of the emphasis that Scripture gives other Christians about obeying those teachers. Hebrews 13:17 says "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you."
That is part of this stewardship that we teachers receive, keeping watch over the souls of those to whom we teach! I am responsible for what I tell them is truth and what I tell them is false. Christians are to "obey" and "submit" to their leaders. If I say "this is what God's word says, and this is what you should do." Then they are supposed to do it. So I had better not tell them something that is out of line with Scripture because I am responsible for their souls, their spiritual well-being! How scary is that.
This is why in 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul warns the young pastor "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." Because we who teach will be judged with greater strictness than the average Christian. That is why it is so important to study hard, and dig deep and be confident that the truth is in your hand and coming out of your mouth, when you teach the word of God. I will stand before God with greater judgement than many of you who read this post, because you have not aspired to be an overseer (1 Timothy 3:1) a pastor/teacher. But those of you who teach as do I, be careful, study hard, find the truth and make it known.
As much as I would hate to be the false teacher, and heretic on the day of judgement who will be cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, so too I would hate to be the born again teacher who neglected his responsibility to watch over the souls of those to whom he taught and did not work to show himself approved before God.
Teaching is a serious business. If you have a pastor who labours to bring you God's truth and is faithful to the Scripture, listen to Him, submit and obey. God has given him a stewardship over the word and over your soul.