1 Timothy 4:12
Posted December 10, 2012
12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
This was the charge given by the apostle Paul to Timothy, a young leader serving the church in Ephesus. Commentators estimate Timothy was in his late twenties to mid-thirties when this was written to him. We’re not told if there was a story behind Paul’s exhortation to Timothy, if there was indeed true “despising” connected to Timothy’s age. Perhaps those in Ephesus had a hard time looking up to him, or the Ephesians associated Timothy’s youthfulness with immaturity, a lack of wisdom, or life experience. Paul did not address these exact issues or people, but rather, issued a call to Timothy: regardless of the perception others may have of you based on your age, God has called you to set a thorough example with every area of your life! While people may assume immaturity, God has called you to show a greater maturity and consistency in your life, setting an example that all could follow (young or old).
In what areas was he to set an example?
In speech: What are the general sort of words that come out of your mouth daily? Do they build others up or tear them down? Do they encourage others or cast a generally negative light on things? Are they works marked by gratitude because of all Christ has done for you or do you grumble? How might you set a (positive godly) example with your words? Are there things you should refrain from speaking that might be setting a negative example? May the words of our mouth be pleasing and acceptable to God (Psalm 19:14), for He hears all things! Our mouths are his.
In conduct: Not just what you say, but how do you live? What do your actions say about your faith? Does your mouth profess a vibrant faith, but your life deny it? Dallas Willard said that the lives of many Christians are those of “practical atheism”. May we not be found guilty of this charge! We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ for good works (Eph. 2:10).
In love: We are not only called to set an example in speech & conduct, but doing so lovingly! Are your words & actions saturated in love? Are you doing the right things but without love? 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 warn us against loveless deeds! Do your words & actions show a love for God & neighbor? Are you increasingly growing in love?
In faith: We are called to live lives of faith in God, believing that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him (Heb. 11:6)! Does your life exhibit this faith in Christ? Is your life marked by faith & confidence in God or by faith & confidence in self? What does your life show you put your faith in?
In purity: This purity isn’t just a mere external purity! Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:8) that the pure in heart shall see God. This sort of purity can only be achieved through the blood of Jesus purifying us and the Holy Spirit working in us, empowering us to conquer these impure fleshly impulses within. While purity absolutely includes our sexual desires, it is not limited to this area only. So often we hear purity and we think it means to stay away from pornography. Yes, but we also want to be a pure people in every area of our lives! Kierkegaard said that purity of heart is to will one thing: God Himself. Are you growing in purity? Is a vision for God alone increasingly governing your life, or are you increasingly divided & splintered? Have you asked God to unite your heart to fear His name (Psalm 86:11)? Have you asked the Holy Spirit to give you strength where you are weak? These are prayers He loves to answer!
One last important comment on this verse comes to us from David Mathis, who said, “The ultimate reason that young Timothy can stand confidently among older adults as their leader and teacher is that his feet rest not on his own experience or skill, but firmly on the gospel of Jesus. It is not himself that Timothy is to emphasize, but another youth — the God-man, who was about Timothy’s age when he set his face like flint toward Jerusalem (Luke 9:51) and died on Calvary’s tree to be “the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10). Jesus is the youth who rose again in triumph and now is seated at his Father’s right hand.” Read the whole blog here: http://fighterverses.com/blog-post/youth-and-the-glory-of-christ/
For all of us, regardless of the stage of life we’re in, the call Paul issued to Timothy is a great reminder to us: set an example in all you do and say and how you do it in the strength God gives you through His Spirit! May we pray with David in Psalm 139:23-24, who cried out, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”.
Both song & artwork come this week by way of Oklahoma City. The song was written by worship leader & singer/songwriter Jonn Gorham (produced by Chris Clark) and artwork created by Kayla Sanders (http://www.kayla-sanders.com/).