During my seminary studies I noticed that commentaries written on some Bible passages were often cultural in their perspective, or reflected the bias or occupation or spiritual gifts of the author. While usually sincere, these writers reveal more about themselves than what the Bible actually says.
For instance, many commentaries written in North America during the first half of the last century were heavily biased against women in ministry. As men went to war and women began doing their jobs back home, a level of respect changed attitudes towards their value, not only in factories but also in the church. After the second great war, the commentaries changes.
Nevertheless, personal bias and perspective needs to be considered when interpreting a passage of Scripture. This morning, I notice myself seeing some verses from my perspective. I was even looking for commentaries that agree with me.
My gift is teaching: gathering information and passing it to others. I like it when someone asks me to do some research for them. When the Internet became available to me, I was afraid to sign up thinking I might never ‘come home.’ Yet I do want my teaching to be correct as well as thorough.
Today I’m reading from Galatians 6:7-10. It says, “Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
After looking at commentaries on verse 6, I noticed that only one said that the things shared with teachers may not be material things. Every other commentary writer figured this verse was about paying the pastor. (Were they all pastors?)
Reading it from the perspective of a teacher, I think it says, “If a teacher goes to work to learn things then passes them on to you, you better share in what they have learned. Don’t stick up your nose at God and refuse to listen. If you do, He may stick up His nose at you because one of life’s principles is that you get back what you put into things. If you are only worried about your fleshy life, the result will be pollution and corruption, but if you care about your spiritual life and allow the Spirit in you to be fed by spiritual truth, then the result will be spiritual growth towards eternal life. Don’t get tired of being teachable; this is a good thing. Some day all that you have learned will pay off. You will benefit if you don’t give up. So while you have opportunity, do the best you can, particularly toward other believers (and don’t forget teachers!)”
The bane of teaching is a student who is not teachable. What good it is to share the wonders of God’s Word to a post or a stone? Teachers want responders. Nothing gives me more delight than to see a person’s eyes light up because they have heard something from me that has been affirmed by the Holy Spirit in their heart. They know. They don’t just know the facts, they know this is true, that God has spoken.
Actually, it really doesn’t matter to me if I said it or someone else in the class said it. What matters is that someone ‘got’ it. They are sharing in the good things with him/her who teaches!
Of course this means that the teacher must be teachable too. If I hear God speak and do what He tells me, I’m qualified to pass it on. It doesn’t say so in this passage, but I know in my heart that if I am not doing what God says, I’ve no credibility in the classroom or even in casual conversation. ‘Do what I say, not do what I do’ cannot rule in my life; I must be teachable also.
That also means I need to be careful about getting from a passage something that feeds only my point of view. Galatians 6 actually could be about sharing my cash with the people who teach me!