I Timothy 4:11-12
I Timothy chapter 4 begins by warning the children of God to be wary of those who departed from the faith, those who are false teachers, and those who emphasize law instead of grace. As an ambassador for Christ, it is not enough for you to know whom the false teachers are and what are the false doctrines. You must also know what is indeed the true meaning of God’s Word and you must be an example to believers; otherwise there is no difference between you and those that have departed from the faith.
The Bible says in I Timothy 4:11-12, “These things command and teach. 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.”
The Epistle of Paul to Timothy was written to a young Christian man. But verse 12 of I Timothy chapter 4 is for believers of all ages. The Bible says to let no man despise thy youth. The Bible says in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” As a believer, God will never condemn you: because of the blood of Jesus. And certainly we should strive to be like God. Jesus said judge not that ye be not judged. But remember that people’s attitude towards you as a person; will be partly dependent upon how you act. Let no man despise thy youth. In other words, it’s up to you. It is partly under your control as to what kind of attitude other people have towards you. If you smile and are friendly toward people they usually will respond in the same manner. People will normally treat you the way that you treat them. He that hath friends must shew himself friendly. Of course, just as II Timothy 3:3 says, there are those that are “despisers of those that are good.” But if someone condemns you let it rather be unjustly for the glory of God, than because of your ungodliness.
We live in a world of ungodliness and spiritual blindness. And man judgeth on the outward appearance, but God looketh on the heart. Most human beings will never see things the way that God does. But if we did then we would understand just as Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He hath made all things beautiful in His time.” Often when we look at other people, we judge them based on their age. This is certainly very true when it comes to people of organized religions determining how capable and fit someone is for the work of God. But most often these people are wrong. At what age is someone qualified for the ministry of Jesus Christ, or the service of teaching God’s Word? There is a time to learn and a time to teach? But who determines that time? God does, not any man.
Many times those who are involved in the organized religions of the world would never look to little children as those who are capable of doing great things for God. But remember Jesus said in Matthew 18:4, “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Sometimes those with the greatest faith and the greatest boldness in speaking forth the truth concerning Jesus, are little children. After all they have the faith of a child. And sometimes we will look at the older people of this world, and think; because they are old they can’t do anything anymore. But remember Moses did His greatest works for God after the age of 80. John the Baptist wrote the Book of Revelation when he was about 100 years old. And what about Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God? He had the greatest ministry in the world, but He was a single young man. And His ministry only lasted 3 short years. And when Jesus was 12 years old, he was in the synagogue teaching the supposed experts and leaders of organized religion. Those who judge people by their age are foolish indeed and know nothing of the Kingdom of God. But let no man despise thy age whatever it may be indeed.
The way that we can let no man despise our age is by being the right kind of an example. In verse 12 there are six ways listed in which the believer should be an example: in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity.
But what exactly is an example? The Greek word here translated example is also found in the Gospel of John 20:25-29, “The other disciples therefore said unto Him, we have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe. And after eight days again, His disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold My hands; and thrust it into My side; and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto Him, my Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”
In this verse the word example is translated print. After the crucifixion of Christ, the disciples and all of Jesus’ followers forsook Him and fled. They gave up on their faith. They were discouraged, distressed, and fallen by the way side. One of those disciples was Thomas. But when Thomas saw the print of the nails in the hand of Christ, He believed.
And this is exactly what it means to be an example. It’s not the idea of something Laodicean or lukewarm. But it’s an example, a testimony like that of Jesus. Jesus after all is the perfect example. Jesus gave for us the perfect example of surrendering our wills do God’s, when He said; “Not My will, Lord, but Thine be done.” And then He bore the shame of the cross. Jesus gave the perfect example of love and grace, of faith and forgiveness; when the nails were driven into His feet and hands, even knowing the print of those nails would remain there though this world pass away. God said in Isaiah 49:16, “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands.”
When we think about the way that Jesus suffered for our sins, when we think about the terrible shame that He bore on that cross, it is not hard to shed a tear and to feel so unworthy but so thankful for God’s great grace and love. But just imagine what it would have been like to be there at Calvary and to see your precious Savior as He screamed in pain when the nails pierced His hands. There is no doubt when Thomas saw the print of the nails in Jesus’ hands that it left quite an impression on Him, as well as the on the rest of the disciples. For in the years to come these followers of Jesus, who just moments before were dead in their faith, would in the years to come take the Gospel of Christ to the entire world. And most would die for their faith.
Think of the nails Of Christ piercing all the way through His hands, something permanent, something that requires suffering and sacrifice. That is what is truly meant by the word example. The question is; are you this kind of example in the lives of men, when God gives you the opportunity?
I Timothy 4:12 tells us six specific ways in which to be an example. The first way is in our words. The Words that we say are very important. Proverbs 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” The right words, words filled with grace and truth, will reprove, rebuke, encourage, comfort, and remind others of; the promises of God, the blessings of God, the faithfulness of God, and the benefits of going God’s way. The right words in any situation will touch the lives of people in the same way that Jesus did. If there is anyone that has ever been an example in word, it is Jesus Christ. When Jesus spoke, it was always words filled with grace and truth. When Jesus spoke; the multitudes were astonished at His doctrine, because no man ever spake as this man.
Colossians 4:6 says; “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh and that every idle word that men shall speak they shall give account of in the Day of Judgment. Are the words that we say important? Yes they are. Because the Bible says in Romans 10:17, “So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
The next word used to describe how we should be an example to the believers is in “conversation.” This word literally means manner of life or way of life. The verb form of the word is translated “to live’ in Hebrews 13:18, “Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.”
Have you ever heard the saying; sow a thought and you reap a deed, so a deed and you reap a habit, so a habit and you reap a life? You’re lifestyle or your conversation should glorify God and point others to the great grace, and love of God that is found only in Jesus Christ. There are some things about your lifestyle that will be observed by other people. But even those things that are not seen by men are known of God because the Bible says in Proverbs 15:3, “The eyes of the LORD are in every place beholding, the evil and the good.” And Jesus said in Matthew 10:26, “there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed.”
If you look at the people in the world around you, you will notice many things about people’s lifestyles. And the sad truth is most people waste their lives. How do you spend your time? When you go to work; do you do it for the Lord, witnessing boldly to the lost people in the world around you? Do you work you’re best for God? In II Timothy 3:4 the Bible warns that many in the last days will be, “lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.” This certainly is true in American society. Some people spend their time getting drunk at bars, going to clubs and parties, and defiling their own flesh through sex out of marriage. And some waste their time seeking only money and more material gain. Turn on your TV and turn on your radio, look at the average person in America today and you will see people brainwashed by the filth of Hollywood. The question is what do you spend your time doing? Living for Jesus and seeking the riches of His Word, or seeking your own will and pleasures of the world?
I Peter 3:16 says; “Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.” The things that you say to people are an example of words and your conversation is an example of deeds. Notice that I Peter 3:16 speaks of a conversation in Christ. Romans 8:14 says; “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” And Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Remember that the only way you can be an example of conversation is in Christ. You must be lead by and empowered by the Spirit of God to be burning and a shining light to the believers and to the lost people of this world. If you find the Spirit of God lacking in your life just remember that if you draw near to God, He will draw near to you. And faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.
Being an example in conversation is really very simple. Jesus said Luke 16:10, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much.” Simply do what the Lord has for you to do today, and you will be the example that you should be in conversation.
The next way in which we are to be an example is in charity. In the Greek language of the New Testament there are three different words used for love or charity. The word used here is “agapa”. This refers to a spiritual love. It is more than just a natural compassion and affection for other people. But it is a love than can only come directly through the Spirit of God. Its just as Paul said in Colossians 1:8, “A love in the Spirit.” After all in Galatians 5:22 the first thing listed in the fruit of the spirit is love. I Corinthians 13:1 says; “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” And I Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
It may very well be that you have great knowledge and understanding and the right words to say at the right time, but if you do not have a love that comes directly from the Spirit of God; then your knowledge will profit you nothing, and your words will be forever empty and hollow. The Bible says in I Peter 4:8, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves; for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”
What is the reason that a lack of love for both the physical and spiritual needs of other people shall profit you nothing in this life or the next? The Bible says in I Corinthians 13:3, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” The Bible also says that God is love. This is the very reason that Jesus Christ humbled Himself and was made in the likeness of men. The great and eternal love of God for the souls of men is the reason that Jesus sacrificed His life, and became sin for us; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
The kind of love that God is talking about here in I Timothy 4:12 is a love just like the kind that Jesus Christ had for us; a sacrificing love, a love that puts all others before oneself, and a love that is very practical to the lives of men. James 1:27 says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
You do not have to look very long at the world around you to see the lack of love that exists in the world. The hearts of men are filled with hared for each other, a hatred that was first spawned in the heart of the devil. This is the reason there is so much crime, and war in the world. Alas, it will be this way until Christ returns. But despite how dark and corrupt the hearts of men may become, you can always rely upon the love of God; that is greatest revealed, in the blood of Jesus Christ.
Search the infinite heart of God; that has been given to us in the form of His Word. And when you have truly come to understand and be thankful for the forgiveness that is found in Jesus Christ; then you will be ready to be an example of charity to the believers, and to the lost of this world. Daniel 12:3 says, “and they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”
If you have never trusted in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; then the only example that your life is to others, is: an example of what not to be. But God is merciful. And today is the day of salvation. Turn from your sins and turn to Jesus. He will forgive you of your sins. Jesus will give you eternal life. And He will make your life a bright and shinning example to others in this world. Jesus said in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”
Copyright; 2003 by Charles
F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved