What we as Bible teachers tell ourselves makes a difference. We’ve already looked at how certain lines of thinking affect not only what we teach but also how we teach. When we hold to misconceptions containing only partial truth, we might weaken and negatively impact our teaching.
We’re on the final post of a series looking at how the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:19 confront some of these misconceptions.
Misconception #3: God will work in students’ lives in spite of us.
Problem: This line of thinking assumes a compartmentalization between our lives and ministries. As along as we show up and teach well, how we live outside of class in our personal lives is our own business and doesn’t matter. God doesn’t need us to work in people’s heart. That’s His job. We just teach people what He says.
Truth: Graciously, God does use us in spite of ourselves. But, we should not presume upon that grace. — “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” (Rom 6:1-2)
Lessons from Jesus in Matthew 5:19 about How We Live
God looks for and commends integrity and authenticity, an agreement between what we say and do. Jesus said, “but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” How we live outside of class does matter.
Jesus supports our need for such authenticity when He goes on in verse 20 to talk about a righteousness that “surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law”. Repeatedly throughout the gospels we read of Jesus confronting their hypocrisy in telling people to do one thing while doing another.
Jesus said that those who practice what they teach will be called great in His kingdom, letting us know where our true reward comes in teaching. Ultimately God is the One who brings the growth, but we work in cooperation with Him as we plant and water the seed (1 Cor. 3:6-9), reinforcing by our example what He wants people to know about Him. Yes, God can, and has, worked in spite of us to accomplish His purposes, but He desires, and rewards, our faithfulness.