Fresh and salt water from the same well?
James 3:7-12 (NASB) asks the questions, “Does a spring send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?” “Can a fig tree…bear olives or a vine bear figs?” The answer to these obvious questions is “No!” When God makes an obvious point in His Word, we have to ask ourselves, “What is God trying to tell me?” We have to take the time to figure out what lesson God is trying to teach us. In this case, the Bible is very clear about the meaning behind these verses. We can’t praise God on Sunday and then curse our brothers on Monday. Our speech and lives must be holy and fully devoted to God, His Word, and His will all the time. When we act holy on Sunday and then act like the rest of the world every other day of the week, the Bible has a word for that. It’s called “hypocrite.” This word means “actor.” We’re just acting like Christians, instead of living like Christians. That’s spiritually unsafe for us and poisonous for the world around us. God wants us to live lives that bring others to Him, not drive them away.
When our lives cause others to fall spiritually, we become what Jesus calls a “stumbling block.” He gives very severe warnings to anyone whose life causes someone to stumble in their walk with Him. In fact, Jesus says it would be better for a person to have a heavy stone hung around his neck and drowned in the sea. Why would Jesus say something so harsh? He wants us to be a light to those around us, doing what we can to bring people to Him. He doesn’t want us to act or speak in ways that hurt people spiritually or in any way.
Many things in life don’t seem like they should mix, like an apple tree bearing grapes or a fresh water well producing salt water. Here’s another example. I like peanut butter, and I like pickles. Despite this fact, I have no desire to eat a pickle with peanut butter on it.
Here’s another combination that seems odd at first: foreign languages and online learning. Many families and schools have turned to online learning. Some families have chosen to keep their kids at home. Others just have to do so when someone gets sick or when schools shut down. When forced to turn to online learning, many teachers and families were confused, not knowing what to do. Thankfully, in my case, I had experience that other teachers did not. During the 2013-2014 school year, I served as the online Spanish teacher for Kentucky Educational Television. During this year, I taught over 300 students and created Spanish 1 and 2 classes. I also created teacher-friendly lessons for their Arte y Más program for elementary age students. Thanks to this experience, I didn’t have as much trouble switching from class-based to home-based learning.
Recently, I completed a Spanish 2 class for an online company. Many people think that an online Spanish class is an odd combination, like peanut butter and pickles. While it did require some modifications from the regular version of the class, I was able to incorporate the content of my regular class into its online counterpart.
What I like best about the online class is that I get to interact with the students in a way that allows me to get to know them better than I would be able to just teaching them 50 minutes a day in the class. My students participate in Zoom meetings with me, which gives me a small glimpse into the environment where they are trying to learn and has encouraged me to allow my students to connect with me in ways that they didn’t in the past. For example, students complete assignments via Zoom, can message me via text at a work number that I created, and can come in for help during virtual days. While students had this final option before, they see the need to do so when that is one of the few ways that they can receive one-on-one help.
I appreciate the opportunity I had to create an online Spanish 2 class. It was a lot of work but also a lot of fun. I designed it for homeschool students and families. I hope and pray that it is beneficial for them. Colossians 2:23-24 (NASB) says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord and for people.” I try to apply this godly advice to everything I do. I see through Zoom meetings and phone calls where my students are learning. I see through the lack of parental response to my attempts and communication that they have no support from home. I realize that I have to be the one that steps up to help, support, and encourage them. They need someone to show them the love of God. I want to be the one that stands up like Isaiah and says, “Here am I. Send me!”