A Godly Example
“Let no one look down on you because of your youth, but be an example and set a pattern for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in moral purity. --- I Timothy 4:12
As a young child growing up, you've probably heard your parents or grandparents tell you to follow the example of a particular individual. When someone instructs you to follow the example of another individual, there are certain character traits, behaviors, and or patterns this particular individual exhibits that are worth being imitated. On the opposite side of that, when someone instructs you not to follow the example of another individual, that person most likely exhibits certain traits, behaviors, and or patterns that should be avoided rather than imitated. One of the keys to being a "good" example, or at least be considered a good example, is consistency! If someone consistently demonstrates kindness to various people, that individual would be easily considered a good example of being kind to others. If someone consistently donates their time, money, and or other resources to other people, that individual would be easily considered a good example of being generous to others!
The letter of I Timothy is the first of two that the apostle Paul wrote to his young “son in the faith”, his spiritual son in the Lord, named Timothy. In Acts 16, Paul meets Timothy in his hometown called Lystra while evangelizing during his second missionary journey. Paul had heard that the people In Lystra and Iconium all spoke very highly of Timothy. Paul had welcomed Timothy into the missionary work alongside himself, Silas, and Luke. Paul mentions his love and deep appreciation for Timothy in other of his writings as well. As in Philippians 2:19-20 where he writes: "But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare."But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father." And, in 1 Thessalonians 3:2, he writes: "...and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith"
Here in I Timothy, the apostle Paul is encouraging and affirming his young son in the Lord as he instructs him to remain in Ephesus and oversee the church that resides there. He was specifically to address the false teaching that was running rampant everywhere.
Although Timothy's exact age around the time of this letter is unknown, scholars estimate that he was probably between his late 20's to mid-'30s. He was certainly younger than most of the elders that he would be overseeing. Paul, of course, was aware of that situation and so charged Timothy with this encouragement: “Let no one look down on you because of your youth, but be an example and set a pattern for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in moral purity." The Christians in Ephesus would not only be looking to Timothy for sound teaching, but they also would be closing observing to be sure he also was true to his teaching.
Paul commanded Timothy to be an example in five areas to those he would oversee
First, in his Speech: In Ephesians 4:29, the apostle Paul instructs the saints at Ephesus directly saying, "Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear." We must be incredibly watchful and discerning as it pertains to the words that we release from our mouths! The word "unwholesome" in the Greek means "rotten, or worthless". When speaking with others, we must be intent on speaking in such a way that edifies, or builds up other individuals in their mind, spirit, and faith. Most importantly, we must be in tune with the Holy Spirit so that the words we speak are according to the "need of the moment" to ultimately bless the hearers, not discourage them.
Second in his Conduct: The word "conduct" in the Greek means "behavior". While living a life of perfection is not the goal, living a life of holiness and righteousness is. The only way we can live a life of holiness is through the power of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5:16-17, the apostle Paul instructs the churches of Galatia saying, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things you please." Our flesh seeks to dominate and take control from the Holy Spirit so that we give in to ungodly behavior, such as sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, envying, drunkenness, and many other forms (Galatians 5:19-21). In order to be holy as the Lord is holy, we must yield to the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to walk in holiness in every aspect of our lives.
Third, in his Love. The term "love" has several different meanings in the Greek language. Here in verse 12, Paul instructs Timothy to be an example and to set a pattern for the believers in agape. Agape, of course, is the unselfish love that seeks the best for others. It is centered on doing things for the well-being of others before yourself. According to the apostle Paul, the entire Old Testament Law can be summed up in one command: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself"
Practicing this type of love requires endless self-sacrifice, patience, endurance, and perseverance. We cannot focus on self because if it does, self will soon shun sacrifice, patience, endurance, or perseverance, and turn attention onto self. The key to exemplifying this type of love is constantly keeping in mind the other individual, or in Timothy's particular case, the individuals he was charged to oversee and lead back into the truth of the Word of God.
Faith is the fourth area in which Timothy is to be an example. The beauty of Timothy's faith was that it was evident and highly esteemed among the brethren. His life reflected his faith. In faith, he submitted to the instruction of his grandmother Lois and mother Eunice as they taught him the Scriptures. In faith, he joined the apostle Paul on his second missionary journey and preached the gospel of Jesus Christ in various regions. In faith, he visited many of the regions where the apostle Paul planted churches to encourage and minister to the saints during severe times of persecution and poverty
The fifth area of exemplary living is in his Purity. In I Thessalonians 4:3-4, the apostle Paul admonishes the church of the Thessalonians saying, "For this is the will of God, that you be separated and set apart from sin: that you abstain and back away from sexual immorality; that each of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor, being available for God's purpose and separated from things profane." Purity is not only carried out through the body but can also inhabit the mind and spirit. In light of this, we must remember that our individual bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit! If we remember He who permanently resides and dwells within us, we will think twice before we engage in acts that would defile His temple. In fact, self-control is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit as we see in Galatians 5:22-23. If we are walking by the Spirit, we will exercise control over our bodies, minds, and spirits, as well as feed our Spirit-man with that which nourishes the Spirit, primarily the Word of God, prayer, and Christ-exalting music!
Our goal as followers of Jesus Christ is to be the example for Godly living among your friends, family, and community, no matter what age you are. The goal is not perfection. The goal is to consistently live the life which glorifies and honors our Lord.
Gary’s Wednesday Word
Princeton Christian Church 02 June 2021