What is your motivation for teaching?

John 7:18 - "The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood."

There is an inherent danger when we attempt to teach someone else, regardless of the topic. When thinking of the possible dangers, many might remember the warning James gave, "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness" (Jas. 3:1).

Besides the greater accountability teachers will be held to, John 7:18 warns of a different danger. When I teach, there is a temptation to speak from my own limited and flawed authority. Taking the thought further, when I do so I am attempting to elevate and glorify myself. How might this self-glorying attitude manifest itself? Making sure my name is attached to all the material that I produce, or that I'm given credit whether it's verbal or written, or I respond poorly if someone makes a point or comment in a class/discussion/blog/post that overshadows mine. Even the frequency of my teaching/preaching/writing/posting could indicate an attempt to glorify myself. Did you notice how many times in this paragraph alone reference was made to "me/my/I"? The sheer volume of those references should ring warning bells to those who desire to live humbly before God.

I understand that in Jn. 7:18 Jesus was claiming unique authority to teach because he was sent from God. But I believe there is a principle in this verse by which Jesus challenges anyone who seeks to teach to have the proper motivation; we want God to be glorified! Even Jesus himself, whose teaching stood out as unique because he WAS the authority, taught in order to impress others with God and His wisdom, goodness and power! In addition to the principle of this verse, the method of bringing glory to God in our teaching is revealed. It is accomplished by relying on the authority of the One God sent instead of using my own imagined authority.

As we prepare for our Bible classes, sermons, worship services, home Bible studies and devotions, let's keep this motivation firmly in mind. At the end of each period of instruction, our desire is that God would be glorified and others would be drawn to Him by basing our instruction on the life and teaching of God’s Son.

(Originally posted 4/15/13)