Living By Example

Paul's Instruction to Timothy on Following and Teaching Doctrine

First Timothy, Chapter 4 beginning in verse 12 to 16. The word of the Lord proclaimed: "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word and conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the leadership. Meditate on these things. Give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine continue in them. For in doing this, you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”

 Now, we already know Paul is writing this letter to Timothy. It's right to say that texts like this are just for the pastor or the elder or the bishop or those who serve in ministry. It's right to conclude that. It's also right to conclude that the standard or the practices of Scripture are also for the Christian. Being on a stage or being on staff does not mean that only these scriptures apply to me, or us.

The Church of Jesus Christ, as Paul is saying to Timothy, needs to orient their consciences around scriptural truth,  so that your Christian life can be an example--key word. A pattern that makes an impression upon a watching world. The world is watching, and your life is either drawing them to the Lord, or repelling them from the Lord.

In verse 12, Paul says, “Timothy, let no one despise your youth. Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” What he's saying here is give no one a reason to say you are immature. Now, Timothy was young by biblical standards. The word "youth" was still appropriate, even though he was in his thirties. But he's not just saying, don't let anyone look at your youthfulness and find any reason to call you immature. “Oh, they're just a kid.”

 He's also saying, don't let the older individuals push you around because you're young.
There's a sense that there was a hierarchy and they believe that age or the elderly automatically equated to maturity, and that's not true. Chronological age does not equal maturity. I know a lot of old fools, I know a lot of younger wise. He's also saying here that, "Timothy, your rebuttal to any detractor who is challenging your age is your character."

And this is the best part. As an example, it's your character that gives you credibility. Christ-like character is priceless. In these descriptions, in word, literally what you speak, be an example in the way you speak. If somebody was listening to your conversations, both private or public, what would they conclude about what you believe? Think about that. Be an example in conduct.

Conducting Yourself as a Christian

I love this word conduct. That means the pattern of life. It means, as you're going to and from, whether private or public, how you conduct yourself, whether you realize it or not. And I can tell you testimony after testimony of being unaware that people were watching my conduct. And they were measuring: "Is what I was saying, equivalent with how I was behaving?"

And many of us know if what we're saying is separate or different from how we're behaving: biblically, that's what makes us hypocrites. Two Faces. Jesus was passionate about identifying hypocrisy, especially under the form and function of religion. Be an example in love. This idea behind love is, some say, “agape”. It's not just self-sacrificial love. It's very specific. It's love which centers in moral preference.
Translation: have biblical morals in a moral-less world.

And your love is not just given sloppily, love is grounded and centered in biblical truth. And when you are an example in how you love, you are loving what God loves. You are shunning what God shuns. Or to use an inflammatory word, you hate what God hates. Be an example in Spirit. This idea is your attitude. When you say someone has spirit, they have spirit, enthusiasm. Be an example, full of God. Every Christian is supposed to be full of God. In seasons where you're not in the word, you're full of yourself.

 I'm full of myself when I'm not in the Word of God and letting the word of God empty me of myself. I want to be an example in spirit and attitude and enthusiasm. Be an example in faith. Not having faith. That's part of it. Be an example in your faithfulness. Are you known to be trustworthy? I can confidently say that I would be able to trust my family, my finances and everything attached to me, to the elders of this church. I would be able to trust them blindly with those very intimate and private details of my life.

They are examples of what it means to be faithful, trustworthy. I want that to be said of me too. That Christian guy, that Christian gal they are trustworthy, worthy of trust. Be an example and purity. The idea of purity here is moral purity, sexual purity; to be an example in public and private, your walk matches your talk.

Embodying Biblical Conduct,
Love, and Faith in Action

Your life matches your lip. You practice what you preach. Your conversation, your conduct and your character are grounded in the Scripture. He's saying, “Timothy, be an example to the believers.” He's also saying, “Timothy, be an example of a believer.” Did you see what I did there with the language? Be an example to the believers. That's amongst the community of faith, but also be an example of a believer. As I speak in other assemblies and maybe even here, I'm not naive to the fact that there are those who come who don't believe what I believe. Remember, I've said this before. My goal might not be to convince them of what I believe. They're rejecting what I believe. My goal is to convince them that I believe what I believe.

Did you get that? So when I'm living in the world, I'm an example of what it looks like to be a believer that does not always come with the red carpet. Being willing, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, to be the only three standing in a sea of thousands, was an example of what it looks like to be a believer.

Question: What if you were the standard for the church in living? You, your life. How you lived your life was the standard for all of us. Would this be a healthy and vibrant church or would this be a sickly and ill church? How about if your life was the standard of how you gave? Your life was the standard for all?

Would Lost and Found Ministries have resources to go do God's work on the street? What if your life was the standard in praying? If your prayer life was the standard set for the health of this church, ladies and gentlemen, would this be a church based on power, the Holy Spirit's power of prayer, or would it be a spiritually weak church? What if your life was the standard in witnessing, if how you shared Jesus became the standard for all of us? What would that look like?

Here's why this matters:
 Our example carries more impact than our verbal. Our example is weightier than our verbal. Why? Because the eyes discern more than the ears.

Theodore Roosevelt said this: “Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care.”
And the example that you live is being caught by watchful eyes.

Are you growing spiritually using our resources?

Consider financially supporting us so we can continue furthering the ministry of the Gospel by making free Biblical resources for people & pastors.

This study was pulled from one of our sermons.

To learn more, watch the full sermon below.


Recent Posts