Editor’s note: This week’s devotion focuses in on teachers. Some of us teach in a classroom setting—a children’s Sunday school class, a home Bible study, a pastor’s class for new believers. Others of us teach more informally—in what we say to our children at home, in the counsel we give our grown children, in the example we set at work.
All pastors teach in some capacity—in word and example. Many churches celebrate October as Pastor Appreciation Month. CTA has a number of appropriate, value-priced gifts you may want to consider using to acknowledge the work of your pastor and the entire church staff—“teachers” all—all year round. Think about how these could fit into a year-round plan of encouragement.
Did you know that there are more than 7,000 varieties of apples in the world? Here in the United States, we grow some 2, 500 varieties. Apples come in different sizes and colors. They vary in taste from sweet to tart. Which variety is your favorite?
You may prefer a Red Delicious apple whose crunchy sweetness sends dribbles down your chin. Or you might like its cousins, the Yellow Delicious or the red-striped golden hue of a Gala. If you’re a baker, you’ll probably choose the lip-puckering tartness of green Granny Smiths for your pies.
People aren’t the only ones who love apples. Birds like them. Deer and raccoons love them. Some fruit flies lay their eggs inside apples. Those eggs hatch as railroad worms—the next stage in the fruit flies’ life cycle. The worms enjoy nothing more than snuggling deep inside an apple, right next to the core, and spend the winter there, well-fed and satisfied!
Apples generously nourish many living creatures.
Getting to the Heart
Teachers also come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, and they too produce fruit—a fruit called knowledge. Like a prolific apple tree, a teacher can’t help but share the bounty. There’s so much to learn, so much to pass on. Our Lord honors teachers by entrusting to them that privilege and responsibility.
But teachers do far more than imparting knowledge. They stand on the front line of caring. They empathize and comfort students who face life’s inevitable difficulties. Teachers hold hands and dry tears, they listen, and they keep confidences. Apples are chock full of good things to nourish our bodies; teachers nourish our minds and hearts.
Those who teach in Christian settings are a special blessing. They possess and share the most wonderful knowledge of all, the Good News that a perfect Jesus lived and died so imperfect people could be saved. They tell the magnificent story of the redemption God has provided in Christ. They share and care, not just out of human compassion, but from godly love, in response to the Lord who first loved them.
Knowledge of history and math, science and grammar lasts for a lifetime, but knowledge about the Savior is a gift that lasts for all eternity. What a joy to hear little ones sing, “Jesus Loves Me”! What a blessing for a teacher to see his student grow in faith! What a comfort to know that the young woman sitting in the pew next to you is the same little girl you introduced to Jesus long ago!
Teaching is challenging. Disasters happen. (Who ate the crayons?) Lessons go awry. (Somebody kill the wasp!) Sometimes tears flow from our students’ eyes, and sometimes it’s the teacher who needs a good cry. In those uh-oh moments, it’s comforting to remember two little words: God sees. He sees the hard work, the extra hours, the prayers you’ve prayed on behalf of those precious students.
Teaching is also rewarding. The light that shines in a little girl’s eyes when she finally understands, the high schooler who stays after class to ask a shy question, the adult who years later comes back to say, “Thank you. You made a difference in my life.” Those are the perks that validate and encourage teachers.
There is, however, another reward for those who teach the faith. We may report to a school board or to a Christian Education Committee, but ultimately, we don’t work for them. Ultimately, we work for our Savior—and for him alone. Listen!
. . . knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 3:24
Apple trees spider their roots deep into the earth, seeking the water that nourishes them. As Christ’s servants, our roots of faith run deep too, as he steadies and nourishes us. Teachers needn’t be discouraged by the challenges of teaching, nor need we rely on the joys of teaching to keep us going—encouraging though the words and actions of our students can be. Our motivation is simply to serve the Lord.
God whispers, “You work for me!” And because we do, our Savior makes an over-the-top promise to us; We will receive “the inheritance” as our reward. An inheritance! We’re more than hired hands. We’re more than servants. We’re family!
What’s more, no one earns an inheritance; it’s a free gift, a gift given with no strings attached. It doesn’t matter if glue spills or the class starts late. It doesn’t matter if you do everything exactly right every time or fall short sometimes. We work in Christ’s love for Christ’s people. And our Lord graciously accepts our labor.
The inheritance God has for us is something special! Jesus won it on Calvary, where he died in our stead, taking all our sins upon himself. Right now, today, we can claim the privilege of being called the children of God. Right now, today, we share his gift of eternal life. And we get to share that privilege, that gift, with our students.
Taking It Home
Teachers, like apple trees, come in many varieties. No two are exactly alike. If you planted 100 seeds from the same apple tree and each of them grew, each of them would be different. Likewise, each teacher differs from his or her mentor. No two teachers look the same, think the same, behave the same, or teach the same. And yet, there is a sameness about Christian teachers; all of us long to share our joy in Jesus and help our students follow him along the path of discipleship.
Are you sometimes bowed down by the disappointments and the challenges of teaching? Are you buoyed up on those days when your students linger longer because they want to hear more? Then remember, God’s words to you are the same each and every day: You work for me. Remember the honor he has given, that of bringing Christ to your students. And remember that you’ll someday receive the promised inheritance in full—an eternity face-to-face with your Savior.
To remind you of how unique you are and what your faithfulness means to us here at (name your church or school) and your students, today I’m giving you each (name the gift and distribute it). gift. May it always remind you of how special you are to your students and, most of all, to God. Every time you teach, you do most certainly touch eternity!
© 2013 CTA, Inc. No duplication of this article is allowed without the express written consent of CTA, PO Box 1205, Fenton, MO 63026-1205. www.CTAinc.com.
If you would like to reprint this devotion and distribute it, complete and submit the form here.