[Paul] settled there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.
In Romans 12:6-8, Paul listed seven spiritual gifts, including the gift of teaching. This gift is the desire to present and to clarify biblical truth. A person with the gift of teaching is interested in biblical information.
It is important to distinguish the spiritual gift of teaching from the role of being a teacher. Many people teach the Word of God, but we do it for different motivations. For example, those of us who have the gift of prophecy teach God’s Word is to cause unbelievers to repent and to cause Christians who are living in sin to turn back to God. That is our motivation for teaching the Bible. People with the gift of exhortation teach the Bible to help people solve practical problems they are facing in their life. But for people with the gift of teaching, their motivation is to present good, solid, and doctrinally sound information. They are not nearly as concerned with the application of Scripture or even seeing a response from their audience as they are in presenting biblical truth. We all need people in the church with this gift to help us stay doctrinally sound.
There are some unique characteristics of this gift. First of all, a person with the gift of teaching enjoys researching biblical truth. They could spend hours studying. Those with the gift of prophecy or exhortation also have to study to know what the Bible says, but their motivation is to see a response from people that turns them toward God or helps them with practical needs. But a person with the gift of teaching is as interested in the research as he or she is in the presentation. Second, a person with the gift of teaching is interested in testing other people’s knowledge. They are always wanting to see if a speaker or a teacher knows what he or she is talking about.
When I think of somebody in the Bible with the gift of teaching, I think about the Apostle Paul. Acts 19:10 tells us that Paul spent two years teaching daily in the synagogue in Ephesus. One marginal note says he taught for five hours a day. He spent five hours a day, six days a week teaching in the synagogue. The book of Romans is most probably the written version of Paul’s lectures in the city of Ephesus. That is the gift of teaching, and we all benefit from that gift.
As you can imagine, there are some dangers of this gift too. The first danger is concentrating on content instead of application. My professor Howard Hendricks used to say, “God didn’t give us the Bible to make us smarter sinners.” God gave us the Bible to increase our level of obedience. So when you are teaching, remember that truth without application is meaningless. The second danger is becoming prideful of your knowledge. That is a danger that those with the gift of teaching need to watch out for. And the third danger is being inattentive to the response of the audience. That is the gift of teaching.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “You And Your Spiritual Gift” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.