Daily Office Readings for Tuesday of Proper 28: Year 2
“1Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For all of us make many mistakes. Anyone who makes no mistakes in speaking is perfect, able to keep the whole body in check with a bridle. If we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we guide their whole bodies.” (James 3:1 to 3)
James’ words suggest that we, at some level, practice what we are taught. Teachers then are probably the most important service providers in any community. Over the years I have taught many classes and counseled many people with various concerns. I pray that my words to them are what I also practice, but more than that, helps them to live better, more faithful lives.
James is not original in using the metaphor of a bridle as an example of holding the attention of those we are trying to teach. This example appears in the Psalms. “Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you (Psalm 32: 9); or in Psalm 39 “Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you” (Psalm 39:9).
Our very first teachers are our parents. Even teachers depend on parents to have taught the children the local language and behaviors. On the very first day in school the child must understand simple instruction such as “sit here,” or “come here,” or “what is your name?” From there the teacher takes hold of the bit and bridle, the reins if you will, and guides us into more productive citizenry.
Another very important person in the teaching, and in particular the behavior of a community, is the pastor. The pastor teacher is a special gift given to some in each community by God as a guide to righteous living. “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers” (Ephesians 4:11). The pastor teacher gift is a combined vocation implanted in some of us for the purpose of comforting and guiding the people of God in righteous living. And as James says, such people will be judged with greater strictness.
All parents are pastor teachers. Parents are called by God to comfort and guide their children in ways that promote harmony in the family, in their church, in their community, and in the world. Perhaps bit and bridle is better than leaving them idle.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to, and through, the saints of God, and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John