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Previous: Advice For Youth.


August 3, 2014

L. John Bost
L. John Bost
Timothy was a young preacher of the Gospel. Paul met him on his first missionary journey when he came to Lystra (Acts 16:1-3). He was the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek. He had a good reputation among the brethren (Christians) of Lystra and Iconium. Paul attributes this to the example of his mother and grandmother (Please see II Timothy 1:4-5, NKJV). We see here the power of a good example. Paul took young Timothy under his wing and nurtured him to become a preacher of the Word (Acts 16:1-4; I Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 4:1-2). The two epistles (letters) to Timothy are filled with practical advice to the young preacher.
One of the most powerful pieces of advice is found in 1 Timothy 4:12. Here Paul writes, "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." Let us examine this advice from the inspired apostle more closely.
First Paul advises, "Let no man despise thy youth." In Paul and Timothy's day, as in our day, youth are often looked down on with contempt by the "older generation." A major reason for this is that youth often reject the values of their elders and establish their own values. There is often seen in youth a disrespect for authority. They often leave the church to live a life of their own. When Paul advises Timothy to, "Let no man despise thy youth," he is saying, "Do not give your elders a reason to despise your youth by abandoning the training and example that you have been given as you have grown up. He says Timothy is to be an example "of the believers." We as Christians are to show, not just teach, others the proper Christian life. In other words, do not just call yourself a Christian, be a Christian!
The apostle gives some examples. First, he says, "Be an word..." Yes, Christians are to teach the Word of God to others. That means that we are to start as young a possible learning the truth. Paul advises his young prodigy in 2 Timothy 2:15, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Please read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Each of us, no matter what our age, needs to study diligently to come to a proper knowledge and understanding of what God's Word. Why? So that we will be prepared to live by it and share it with others!
Secondly, Paul advises young Timothy to "Be an example in....conversation... That is, be an example in your behavior, which is the meaning of the word in the original Greek. Christians should not only teach the word, they should live it! Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:22, "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart." Young people often give in to the desires that naturally come to them in adolescence. Paul says avoid this, but fill your life with righteousness, faith, etc. The desire to obtain riches, and the "things" that they bring, is included in the "lusts" that Paul says we are to avoid (1 Timothy 6:9-11). Money is not bad, but the "love of money" can harm, even destroy us.
"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers..."
Third, Paul advises Timothy, "Be an example in ... love (NKJV)..." Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 that it does not matter what else we do, it will do us no good if we are not motivated by love. He concludes in 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NKJV), "And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." Love is shown in our compassion for others. John writes, "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth." True love is shown, not merely spoken!
Fourth, Paul advises Timothy, "Be an example in ... faith..."*. Faith, as love, must be shown, not merely spoken. James writes, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." Though one is not saved by works, he cannot be saved without works either! (See Ephesians 2:8-9 and James 1:15-18). Rather than fill his life with pleasurable pursuits, a young Christian should fill his life doing good for others.
Finally, Paul advises Timothy, "Be thou an example in ... purity..." Paul writes in 1 Timothy 1:5 (NKJV), "Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith ..." Moral purity is an absolute necessity for the Christian. Paul writes in Hebrews 13:4, "Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. John gives us a beautiful glimpse of the future: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2) He then tells us, "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 John 3:3). So, does it not make perfect sense to be an example of purity?
Solomon writes, "Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth..." Paul writes, "For He says: 'In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.' Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2, NKJV). Young person, will you not begin your life of service now? May we help you? Let us hear from you. Contact us

*The KJV includes spirit between charity and faith. As this is not found in many of the ancient manuscripts from which our modern translations come, it is omitted in most of them as well.
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