Allow me to offer three illustrations that involve teaching. Teaching, of course, can be a wonderful thing that produces desirable results. As we will see with each of these illustrations, however, sometimes the whole process can turn sideways in a hurry.
Illustration #1: A man was attempting to house train his dog. Every time the dog made a mess in the house, he threw the dog out the window as punishment. After about three weeks, someone asked the man how the training was coming along. He said, “That dumb dog – now every time he makes a mess he finishes up by jumping out the window.”
Illustration #2: A teenage girl took first-aid training. A few days later she burst into the house and said, “Mother, I just saw a terrible accident and I used my first-aid training.” The proud mother, with visions of her daughter heroically giving someone mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, said, “Oh, honey, that’s wonderful. What did you do?” The girl said, “When I saw the blood, I sat down and put my head between my knees so I wouldn’t pass out.”
Illustration #3: The starting quarterback on the high school team got injured and the team had to send in an untested freshman to replace him. Normally, the freshman was the team’s punter. Since the coach didn’t trust the freshman to run the offense, he said to the kid, “Just hand the ball off to Jones, our big fullback, for three plays and then punt.” The freshman said, “Got it, coach” and ran onto the field.
On the first play, Jones ripped off a long run. The hometown crowd roared. The next play Jones rumbled for another big chunk of yards. The crowd roared again. The next play Jones ran the ball all the way down inside the one yard line, just inches away from a touchdown. The crowd went into a frenzy.
Then the team lined up for the next play. The freshman quarterback took the snap, dropped back a couple of yards, and punted the ball completely through the end-zone, far up into the stands. As the team came off the field, the incensed coach grabbed the young quarterback and screamed, “What in the world were you thinking when you punted that ball?” The youngster said, “I was thinking, ‘we sure do have a dumb coach.’”
Teaching gets trying at times, doesn’t it? But let’s keep at it, especially in the realm of Christian teaching. As Solomon attempted to teach his son, Rehoboam, about the dangers of adultery, he told him to obey his words so that the young man wouldn’t have to admit to a certain truth about himself. What was that truth? Solomon didn’t want Rehoboam to have to say, “How I have hated instruction, and my heart despised correction! I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me! I was on the verge of total ruin…” (Proverbs 5:12-14, N.K.J.V.). You see, right there is the highest motivation for Christian teaching. The Christian teaches for the purpose of keeping someone from total ruin.
There is a debate as to who wrote the Bible’s book of Hebrews. Whoever it was, though, wrote under the inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16), and in Hebrews 5:12 he rebukes the Jewish Christians to whom he is writing. And what does he rebuke them for? He rebukes them for not being spiritually far enough along to be TEACHERS of the word of God. Obviously, those Christians had been saved long enough to have become capable of teaching God’s word, but they hadn’t done their “learning” and therefore still needed to be taught themselves.
Whatever else we might say about that verse, it certainly proves that God wants Christians to be teachers of His word. This doesn’t mean that it’s His will for every Christian to be a pastor, Sunday School teacher, missionary, theologian, or seminary professor. It does mean, though, that each Christian should be doing his or her part to instruct others in what “Thus saith the Lord.”
So, how are you doing on that, Christian? Can you effectively weave the teachings of God’s word into everyday conversations? Are you a veritable well of scriptural instruction to your friends, acquaintances, and coworkers? If you have children, do you make a point of telling them what the Bible says about controversial issues? I hope you will agree with me that your answer to each of these questions should be: yes. And in case you are wondering why this is such a big deal, let me remind you that God just might want to use your teaching to save someone from spiritual ruin.