emilynisch

The Cure for Youth (Thoughts From 1 Timothy)

In Uncategorized on April 22, 2009 at 6:46 pm

11Command and teach these things. 12Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. 13Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. 14Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.

15Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

1 Timothy 11-16

God has been teaching me about these verses for the past year or so, maybe more. I didn’t know that until recently, when I was reading 1 Timothy. This instruction of Paul’s really did seem to leap from the page: “set an example.” That’s the key! (I thought).

I’m in the stage of life where I’m just setting out; still in the process of navigating God’s direction for me. So, I’ve been working through the very interesting journey of discovering who I am, how God wants to use who I am, and how to get to that place of being used. What jumped out at me in Timothy deals mostly with the last of these. I’ve struggled with each area, but it’s that one that’s been the most painful and confusing. Well, they’ve all been pretty painful and confusing, as learning and changing will be – but it really wasn’t until I read the “example” verse that I could make any sense of it at all. (If I really have!)

Paul writes (among other things) to encourage Timothy because he’s young and perhaps has been looked down on. Paul’s answer and solution for Timothy is that he should “set an example.” Specifically, he should “set an example for believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (He goes on, but I’ll stop here for now).

My natural human response would not have taken this route, but instead demand to be noticed. Paul tells Timothy that he will be seen for what he is (despite his age) by showing who he is. He’s to show everyone his metal by following God in such a way that he could be known as a paragon of following Christ. After all, following Christ is the point anyway.

Paul clarifies:

15Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

What Paul is talking about when he says “these matters” comes just before. They are the public reading of scripture, preaching, teaching and Timothy’s gift. He’s saying, “Timothy, keep working in the things you know you’re supposed to be working in.” I imagine Paul knew how difficult what Timothy was doing was. He’s encouraging him to stick with the same things he had known to do or had been instructed to do originally, and not let circumstances discourage him, confuse him or change his mind. (One of my pastors recently said something similar: “don’t forget in the dark what God has spoken to you in the light). Notice that Paul says by persevering he will save himself and his hearers. Pretty important.

Basically Paul is instructing Timothy to stop thinking about what everyone around him is saying or thinking of him. He’s telling him not to focus on their approval or fight for it. Instead, he tells Timothy to grow in who he is. To seek to grow in who he is. To watch himself closely, to be diligent, to give himself wholly to them – so that everyone will see his progress. By focusing on his walk with God, Timothy will become more and more like him and be able to continue moving toward God in his own life, and also properly instruct the people under his care, so that they can continue to move toward God in their own lives as well.

This is a roundabout route according to the world. People are taught to strive for position. The bible teaches that a tree is known by its fruit – which means that whatever example we set shows who we are, whether we belong to and are running more and more toward God. This is of ultimate importance and the thing that, as Christians, we know is of the ultimate importance in judging whether someone is qualified to be in a certain role. Here, Paul tells Timothy to show everyone that he’s is really truly God’s. By this, everyone will come to respect him, despite his age, knowing that age is not the thing that qualifies.

This is a challenge – to the person in Timothy’s position and to the people that choose to accept or reject him. I’ve found that I’ve been in both positions, and both continue to refine my the reactions of habit and flesh away. It’s helpful to remember that each of us answers to God for ourselves alone. I think Paul’s reminding Timothy of this too – he tells his persevering will save himself and his hearers. Each of us sees only small part of things. I want to learn how to see and do my part well, to be satisfied and happy to “set an example”, and to learn to see others as God sees and knows them and say ‘yes’ to how God is exalting them to exalt himself. 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