Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
Paul told Timothy to preach the word. But he had to do something else to add real punch to his words.
Timothy was a young guy – I’ve heard he may have been as young as 16 when Paul took him under his wing. Folks may have been tempted to despise him because he was young. Who is this young punk trying tell me how to live?
The secret to adding real punch to our words is to back up those words with a godly life. It’s not just for an outward show. God motivates and encourages us through others’ example as well as words.
Others are observing us. First they listen to our words. Then they check to see if our lives match up. They check to see if we love others. If we’re humble. If we trust God in the fiery furnace. They watch how we act outside of church.
Nothing does more damage to the gospel than when our lives don’t match up with our words. If we tell others Jesus changes people, it confuses them if they see no change in us. If we preach we should love one another yet slander and gossip about others, who’s going to follow us?
Paul often urged others to imitate him:
For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 2 Thessalonians 3:7
What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me-practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:9
Pastors, lead your churches by example.
Try to be the biggest servant in the church. Seek to be the most joyful, thankful, gentle, humble person in your church. Set an example in sharing weaknesses. Show your fellow believers how to face trials with faith, prayer, and perseverance. Show them how to be teachable and approachable.
Parents, lead your children by example.
Husbands, let your children see you love your wife sacrificially. Parents, ask Jesus to help you be joyful and thankful. Show your children how to forgive and speak kindly of those who offend you. Let them see your commitment to regular Bible intake and prayer, as well as your devotion to your local church. Demonstrates expressive, wholehearted singing to God and devotion to the preached Word every Sunday.
Young men and women – set an example for older believers and younger believers
Set an example of radical zeal for God, serving and looking to the interests of others. Set an example for others in purity and holiness. Show us how to honor your mother and father. Be different than many young people in your humility and teachableness.
No matter what age you are, married or single, you can set an example for others. By God’s grace, let’s all seek to give others something to imitate.
photo by Generationbass.com