Not many of you should presume to be teachers … because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. James 3:1
This sentence introduces James’ teaching on controlling our tongues and the important word here is “presume.” It’s an easy trap to fall into since we presume so many things in life. In order for us to make sense of life, we make assumptions. We assume day follows night, weeks flow into months, year follows year. We assume people will turn up for work, we assume people will relate to us in the way they usually do, we assume life will continue in much the same way as it always has. We slip into the habit of making assumptions about each other. When a crisis occurs we go into shock because it disrupts our assumptions.
God is doing an individual work in each of us. Paul writes, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). God is doing a good work in each of our lives but we can’t presume that we know what God is doing in someone else’s life. When Peter asked Jesus about John, someone he had been in close contact with for three years, Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22).
Sometimes we feel like we have the perfect solution to someone’s problem but unless it’s God-given we haven’t a clue. James tells us not to presume to teach. It requires us to be humble and acknowledge only God really knows what is best for each of us.