Be-Attitudes for Teachers: A Devotional for Sunday School & Other Bible Teachers
. . . faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:17)
Are you a works-oriented teacher? You shouldn't be, if by that question you are thinking in terms of salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 clearly states that salvation is by grace through faith "and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works." However, true faith results in good deeds. Ephesians 2:10 goes on to say that "we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works." In this sense, yes, you should be a works-oriented teacher, helping believers live out the very purpose for which they were created and helping them to discover the difference truth can make in their lives.
You need to be practical. You must take your students beyond cognitive learning and rote memorization to finding the meaning, relevance, and application of God's Word to their daily lives. You should teach for changed lives not merely the acquisition of facts.
How difficult it is to take your students beyond where you have gone in your own walk with the Lord. You learn to be practical by experiencing first hand the life-changing power of God's Word. Think through the elements required for you to get there.
First came the personalization of truth. Vague, abstract, theoretical words failed to reach into your heart. When the truths became understandable and real to you, they began to make a difference. Jesus mastered the art of encasing truth in words people could understand. He met people where they were. He spoke of farming, shepherding, and vineyards, all concepts of which people in His day could relate.
For truth to impact your life, you not only had to understand it but you had to see its relevance to your life. At some point you answered the question, "What does this mean to me?"
But then you went a step further to the application of the message to your life. "What," you asked, "should I do differently?"
This led to change. Perhaps you crossed from disbelief into belief. Or, something in your attitudes, conversation, thinking, feelings, or actions changed. You could not stay the same once truth was applied to your life.
The timeliness of the Word contributed to the change. You were ready. A need surfaced and the solution presented itself, so you acted.
Another factor was the immediacy with which you acted. There was something you could do now, not days, weeks, or months from now. How often good intentions have gone unrealized because you forgot what you learned by the time you needed it.
Conviction also played a big part. The Spirit of God was prompting you to do something about what you had learned. You knew God would be pleased if you took the step of obedience in faith.
You had a sense of accountability, not to another human being, but to God Himself. The "double-edged sword" of Hebrews 4:12-13 got to the core of your very being. You realized that "nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give an account."
Finally, in the process you discovered the life-giving nature of truth. God's conviction and your sense of accountability were not to bring condemnation but grace. Putting truth into practice was a positive reality, not negative. Hope, love, joy, and peace filled your being. You experienced the benefit of applying truth to your life.
As a result, you now see the value of being practical as you teach others. You take the lessons far enough for your students, even if the curriculum you use does not. You not only structure for application but provide opportunity to practice in contrived settings. Then you follow-up with how they did in real life either by asking during the next session or by contacting students throughout the week. In so doing, you incorporate the elements you yourself had learned.
For Teachers: Examine your life. Do you handle the Word of God this way in your own life? The next time you study the Word of God, work through each of the elements listed above. First ask yourself how it is personal and relevant to you and how you will apply it. Then a few days later ask yourself the following questions: In what ways did you change as a result? How timely was the Word to your needs? How immediately were you able to act on it? About what did you sense the Spirit convicting you? If God were to call you into account right now, can you say you were obedient to His Word? What life-giving benefits did you experience as a result?
For Leaders: Assist your teachers to be more practical by making sure you use curriculum that gives adequate attention to application. Remind teachers of this goal on occasion. Recommend resources that encourage the need for application in the teaching-learning process.
For Group Use: Display the words listed at the end of the devotional in acrostic form. Keep the words masked until you get to that part in the presentation. You could have someone come prepared with a testimonial to the practicality of God's Word in their life.
(Last updated 07/01/18)