James 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
Speaking is something that man was capable of from his creation. Adam communicated with God in the Garden of Eden. He also communicated with his wife, Eve. Evolution is a lie that suggests that in the past man was evolved from the monkey and that he lived for a time as a “cave man”. As such they claim man grunted before he learned to talk. As mentioned that is a lie.
In verse 1 of chapter 3, God directed James to warn us of the responsibility that masters have. In the context, a master is someone who teaches with regard to things related to God and of the responsibility that man has toward God. There are self-made “masters” today who find a diploma on the internet or find some gullible people that are impressed with them for some reason. We know that Joseph Smith was able to convince people that he was an important man worth following. Taze Russel was another of these deceived men. There are many others that could be named.
Those who choose to be masters, must understand that they are accountable to God for what they say and do. They will be held accountable for those they teach and lead with their teaching. It is not a light thing to claim to be teaching others what God says and how we need to live. There are fathers who choose to teach their children what they believe about God, even though their belief is wrong.
Fathers need to be saved first of all. They need to be humble and teachable. Fathers need to teach their children about God. They need to be careful that they teach the truth. Fathers can do this if they are saved and humbly following God.
Pastors are also accountable for the things they teach those that God brings across their path. Hebrews 13 reminds church members of the importance of listening to those who have the “rule” over them. In that passage Paul also warns masters that they will be held accountable for what they teach those whom God has given them to rule over. For me, this is a very sobering thought. I am not prepared to fight against God and refuse to be a pastor. I also have a sense of godly fear/reverence for God. I want to be careful to teach the truth. As such, I cannot take surveys and see what other pastors are teaching and see if I match up to that. My primary authority must be God’s Word.
I have sought out men that have a godly testimony and have looked to them for teaching and guidance. I still do that today. I also need to be willing to teach others the things that God has taught me. Others need to be taught the truth as well. It is important for any good Bible teacher to carefully demonstrate how they come to the conclusions they come to about any doctrine or theology of the Bible. Others need to know they can have confidence in what is being taught. Others need to know how to rightly divide the word of truth.
No master will get off without being examined by the Lord for everything they say or do. That is the reality.
God reminds us as well that it is common for us to offend others. We can cause others to stumble or fall. It seems that God directed James to build upon what was already stated in chapter 1:19.
James 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
In chapter 3, James points out that we will offend all at times. He went on to talk of the man who does not offend in word. This man is a perfect man. This man has the ability to govern his whole body properly. The only “man” that is capable of this is the “God-Man,” the Lord Jesus Christ. Human masters will offend at times. Human masters need to be willing to admit their sin and confess it and seek to grow from that.
We see in this passage that it is important to be able to govern our bodies properly.
I Corinthians 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Paul wrote here of the importance of being aware of our weaknesses and of having that godly discipline to be careful so as not to be a castaway. There is no blessing in being put on the shelf by God because of arrogance and self-indulgence.
James will take this matter closer to home with us in the following verses. We will get into that in a future devotional. Suffice it to say that we need to be very careful in seeking to be a master of God’s Word. There is a need for masters in every generation. There is a need for students to be saved and led by the Holy Spirit to follow after those who follow after Christ, and are called to be masters. Those who are called to this task need to submit themselves to God’s calling on their life. They need to be faithful students of God’s Word and have the patience needed to take their students along in their walk of faith. There are rewards for those who take this calling seriously. There are blessings as well for those who submit themselves to godly masters.