Luke 6:39-42: Teaching Godliness

Read: Luke 6:39-42

Jesus told numerous parables, which are earthly stories to communicate heavenly truth. A few of these parables are short while others are long, and some he offers insight into their meanings and others he does not. Luke inserts a break in the discourse that Jesus to note that Jesus was telling a parable, this one short and with an explanation. He tells a parable about two the blind leading the blind, and how in doing so they both fall into a pit. The explanation Jesus gives is quite simple: a student is not above his teacher but when trained the student will be like the teacher. This parable is typically applied to to the previous section of Jesus’ sermon that is talking about judgement. While this certainly does apply to judging others, the principle is broader, concerning those who teach. The warning here is against the sort of teachers who are unstudied, living a life of ungodliness or both. Such teachers are blinded by bad doctrine or sin of their own making it hypocritical to tell others about bad doctrine or sin. Jesus uses hyperbole to explain this: hypocrisy is the proverbial plank in one’s own eye which is huge compared to a speck in another’s eye.

The New Testament speaks often about the role of teaching in the church. Teaching is a spiritual gift (Romans 12:7) and a role in the church (Ephesians 4:11). The ability to teach is also a characteristic of church leaders as well (1 Timothy 3:2). The word of God is how one knows what to teach (2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Timothy 2:15). At the same time, there are warnings against false teachers. 1 Timothy 6:3-5 shows the characteristics of false teachers who subvert the gospel: in short they are conceited, stir up division, and seek godliness as a means of gain. False doctrine and ungodliness is a matter of life and death on matters of salvation because bad doctrine and ungodliness turn people to false gospels that cannot save.

Teaching the word of God is a high calling and cannot be understated, but it comes with great responsibility too. Jesus’ calls for anyone wanting to teach to be mindful of what he or she is teaching and to be mindful of one’s personal holiness. Both personal holiness and sound doctrine requires a teach to also be a student of the word of God because it acts as a mirror so one can see oneself (James 1:23) and also as a sword, piercing the mind of the hearer (Hebrews 4:12). Not everyone is called to be a teacher, but just about every believer will be called to teach another believer at one point, especially if one has children. The call for everyone then is to study the word of God, apply to one’s own life, and teach it faithfully so others too can live godly lives and hold to sound doctrine.

Lord, help me learn your word so I can live and teach godliness!