With fall education programs getting under way and Sunday school teachers beginning another year of teaching, it may be disconcerting to hear this reading from James: “Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
In this chapter James is warning his listeners that it is difficult to guard the tongue. But the link between the first verse and the rest of the chapter is not self-evident. Why begin this section by addressing teachers? Is self-control with respect to words harder for teachers than others? (No fair answering if you are in academic administration.) Or is it just that teachers, like preachers, make their living with words, and so the likelihood of error is greater for them? With access to so much rope, it is only a matter of time before we professional speakers hang ourselves.