Thursday, October 26, 2017
Set An Example
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
“Don’t let?” You can’t stop others from thinking whatever it is they choose to think. None of us can. Age (youth or maturity) has very little to do with controlling the viewpoints of others about us. Paul also isn’t giving Timothy license to rebuke others for looking down on him.
But let’s not focus so much on the first sentence that we overlook the primary point the Apostle Paul is trying to make with the “dear son” he is mentoring. He speaks in a way that is based on their relationship: deeply loving, mentor to student, a caring father instructing his prodigy.
Indulge your sanctified imagination for a moment to consider how Paul is helping this young man, the son he loves, understand how to be most effective in his life and ministry. Paul says there’s a proven way to avoid others looking down on you: Don’t act your age, like your peers are doing. Don’t be immature and inconsiderate, but rather, in the way you live, be your best self. In the larger context around verse 12, Paul says, “Train yourself to be godly (v. 7), put your hope in the living God (v. 10), devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching (v. 13). Exercise your gift (v. 14), be diligent so others can see your progress (v. 15).”
I can picture Paul with his arm around his young student, urging him: “Be the example others can point to and say, look how well he speaks, look at how he conducts himself with such integrity! So loving, so full of faith and true doctrine!” (v. 16)
So I offer this paraphrase, Paul’s instruction as a loving mentor, for us to receive and apply in our own lives:
Don’t live in a way that gives others reasons to look down on you. Be mature. Set the example. Ignore the distraction of how others live, what others think, what they may say about you. Keep your eyes on Jesus and live in integrity. Keep reading and studying God’s word. Trust Him with your reputation. Release the urge to defend yourself. Give up your need to explain yourself. Haters gonna hate. You live right anyway.