Be An Example
“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.” — I Timothy 4:12
Paul’s epistle to Timothy is a personal letter and not written to a specific church.
Timothy was born in the province of Lycaonia in the city of Lystra, which was located in Asia Minor. His father was a pagan, but his mother, Eunice, and his grandmother were Jewesses devoted to their faith. It appears that during Paul’s first trip to Asia Minor, they heard the gospel preached by Paul and accepted Christ. Sometime later, Timothy accepted Christ either through Paul or his mother and grandmother.
Timothy became a valued servant of the Lord and a son of the faith to Paul. Timothy served as Paul’s representative to different churches and as a pastor in Ephesus.
The purpose of I Timothy was to give this young minister of the gospel practical instructions regarding his personal life and the rule of order for the church at Ephesus. In I Timothy 4:12, Paul gives to Timothy that which all should bear in mind as disciples of Christ. So let’s look at the godly advice the apostle gives to Timothy and to all of us.
BE THOU AN EXAMPLE OF THE BELIEVERS
In the Greek, the word be is ginomai, and it means “to become,” which says to us today, “keep on becoming” an example, ever growing in grace and the knowledge of the Lord.
The word example in the Greek is tupos, and it means “the mark of a stroke or blow; a print; a figure formed by a blow or impression.” The idea is that, as a Christian, I am to be formed into the image of Christ, I am to be an impression of Him to the world. I am to be His voice and His hand extended.
Romans 8:29 says, “For whom He did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Colossians 3:10 says, “And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”
The whole idea is that the world sees Christ in us and through us. As well, our lifestyle should be an encouragement to the body of Christ.
This refers to the Word of God. In Timothy’s case, Paul’s admonition referred to him teaching and preaching sound doctrine. The Bible is to be our guide for the conduct of our life in action and speech. Is it scriptural? Everything must be. Also, our casual conversation should reflect words that are wholesome and edifying.
This phrase has reference to our behavior or manner of life. The idea is that the way we conduct ourselves should be an example of righteousness and holiness. If we are an example “in word,” then it should be no problem to conduct ourselves in a manner that brings glory to God. In his epistle of III John 1:4, John the Beloved wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” The truth was the Word of God and its doctrine. These believers were allowing the gospel to transform their lives—that allowed them to walk right, talk right, live right, and let agape love shine forth as rays of the sun.
This means to walk and to live in love, for that’s what charity means. It’s the love of God, which is agape love. This is the love that God is (I John 4:8, 16) and which the Holy Spirit produces in our hearts. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 13 that love is to be the earmark of the born-again life. John also expresses the same thought in I John.
We see in this phrase implication of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. The Holy Spirit is to rule our lives to the extent that He has leeway to guide us, instruct us, conform us, speak to us and through us, convict us, and even rebuke us. However, we must never forget that none of the work of the Holy Spirit in us is automatic; it’s only potential. We must constantly seek the Holy Spirit for His help and guidance, and our faith must be correct, which is faith in Christ and Him crucified. If the object of one’s faith is wrong, then the Holy Spirit is limited in what He can do in us and for us.
Faith, as it is used in I Timothy 4:12, refers to faithfulness and being faithful, which means to continue in the faith and that our faith is faith in the sacrifice of Christ. Once again, we go back to one’s object of faith which must be the cross of Christ.
This pertains to morality, purity of the flesh, and purity of motive and action. In the Greek, the idea of this word means “chastity, which shuts out any impurity of spirit or manner that might defile.” Also, it’s the idea of remaining clean and not letting the defilement and impurity of the world contaminate us.
What Paul gave to Timothy—and to us—can only be obtained one way and that way is God’s prescribed order of life and living, which is as follows:
• Everything we need to live this life comes through what Jesus did at Calvary and the resurrection.
• We must place our faith exclusively in the finished work of Christ. Our faith must never be moved from Calvary and the victory won there.
• Then the Holy Spirit can work as He desires in our life.
Following God’s prescribed order will result in our words being correct, our behavior glorifying Christ, our guiding principle being love, and our spirits being ruled by the Holy Spirit.
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