“But be an example to all believers…”
We have spent an entire month telling you how you should be an example to those around you. Elaborating on several ways you can exemplify godly behaviour and encouraging you to actually do so.
But now we get to my favourite question in the whole wide world:
It’s all well and good to say “you should” and “you must”. However, if we as teenagers do not know the motivation for why we should and must do those things, we are pretty much guaranteed not to do them (I know, I’m a teenager too). And saying “because the Bible says so” isn’t really the most satisfactory answer to the “but why?” question.
In order to understand why we should be an example, we need to understand the context of the verse and why the receiver was told to be an example. 1 Timothy was written by Paul to the young(ish) pastor, Timothy. The purpose of this letter was to encourage and exhort him as well as to instruct him on how to be a pastor. The verses surrounding 1 Timothy 4:12 are telling Timothy how he must teach, encourage and exhort the believers in his church.
So Timothy was young and he was leading a bunch of people in their spiritual walks. He was going to be telling them a lot of “you should’s” and I think Paul was reminding him that he needs to walk and not just talk. It can be very easy to tell people how they should live and what they should do and then forget that you need to be the same way; no matter how old you are. Being young just makes this all the more important because people are more likely to automatically respect you when you are older and have more wisdom simply from living longer.
We as young people have a chance to influence many people around us, whether they be older, younger or around the same age. But we can’t just tell them what they should be doing, we need to show them how they should live by living out that lifestyle ourselves.
Another reason we should be an example is because otherwise we are hypocrites, and no one likes a hypocrite. We can’t expect to tell people that they should do or be something when we aren’t doing or being that ourselves. If you want to tell anyone to do or be anything, make sure that you are doing and being that thing already.
Finally, as a Christian, you are often the only “Bible” that many people will ever read. You are meant to be a testimony of who Christ is like. You can’t expect other people to believe your message when you are not living it out. What you do has far more impact than what you say.
Remember that anyone who is following you will do what you do and not what you say. When you tell people that you are a Christian, know that others are watching you to see how you deal with life as a Christ follower. I encourage you to be an example, and now you know why.
“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” – Francis of Assisi