Today, when we talk about teaching, we tend to mean “share information in such a way that the other person learns the information.”
Sharing information and exchanging information is an important aspect of teaching, but it is not teaching… at least, it is not teaching in the sense that we read in Scripture.
You see, the view of teaching as “sharing information” also views the content of teaching to be a set of proposition that can be memorized or cognitively understood. The problem is that for the follower of Jesus, the content of teaching is the life of following Jesus. The goal of teaching according to Scripture is not learning information, but living in a way that honors God. Thus, our understanding of teaching must take this into account.
So, while teaching should include sharing information, it must also include a demonstration of how that information impacts the life of follower of Jesus Christ. Similarly, it must include helping another live in a manner that honors God. It should also include exhortation for the learner to begin teaching the same concepts and life examples.
There is a belief – an invalid belief, I think – that it is possible to teaching someone how to live by sharing an example or telling a story. These are very powerful teaching methods, but they still only share information, even if that information is more easily understood because of the methods. Whole teaching must go beyond simply telling in order to include showing and helping.
The easiest example that I can think of is what Jesus called the greatest commandment: “Love God and love neighbor.” I can tell someone, “Love God and love neighbor.” I can make them memorize, “Love God and love neighbor.” I can explain to them what “Love God and love neighbor” means. I can even give them example of how I or other people have practiced the concept “Love God and love neighbor.” But, all of this is simply the beginning of teaching. It is sharing information.
If the person repeats the phrase, “Love God and love neighbor,” the person has not necessarily learned it. Even if the person has the phrase memorized and can repeat it every day of her life, she has not necessarily learned it. The person might even be able to repeat my explanations and illustrations and perhaps offer his own illustrations, but this does not mean that the person has learned “Love God and love neighbor.”
Instead, teaching requires that I move beyond the stage of telling him or her about “Love God and love neighbor” until I am demonstrating “Love God and love neighbor” to them. Then, teaching must continue to the point where I am helping the other person to live out the concept “Love God and love neighbor.” Finally, teaching includes the responsibility to exhort the other person to begin teaching “Love God and love neighbor” to someone else.
Yes, we must share information. But, we cannot stop at sharing information. Teaching requires that we share much more than information. Teaching requires that we share our whole lives.