A Youthful Example
TEXT: I Timothy 4:12
TOPIC: A Youthful Example
Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, July 16, 2006
Preached to Youth following Youth Camp 06 at GWU in Boiling Springs, NC
If you brought your bible please open to I Timothy 4:12. As you do so let me tell you that this verse was one of my favorite verses as a teenage Christian. It was one of my “life verses.” Do you know what a life verse is? It’s a single verse of Scripture that so impacts your life that the truth of that verse literally changes who you are. That’s the way I feel about I Timothy 4:12.
As a young man still in college, God began to speak to my heart about following Him into full-time Christian ministry. In fact, He first began to speak to me while I was still in high school. Of course I struggled with this calling several years. I gave God every excuse why I could never preach. I couldn’t speak in front of people; if I did, I could never lift my voice or way my arms around. I even told Him I couldn’t pronounce all those big bible words! I soon learned no one else could either so I just acted like I knew what I was saying and everyone seemed to go along. Another one was that I was too young. I was just a student still in college.
1 Timothy 4:12 was one of the verses the Lord gave me that spoke to me again and again. I clearly heard Him say to me what the Apostle Paul said to Timothy, that I was not to allow my youth to be a limitation in God using me.
1 Timothy 4:12
12Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.
God wants young people who are not ashamed to be known as a Christian. God wants young people who are examples of a godly lifestyle!
First, God speaks a word of encouragement to young people in this verse. The Apostle Paul, who wrote this letter to the young man Timothy, was an older, wiser, saint of God. He wrote to encourage Timothy to live a good and godly life. Paul was many things to Timothy. He was a mentor, a disciple maker, a teacher, but most of all he was an encourager to Timothy.
Don’t you like encouraging people? This world is filled with negative people; negative, negative, negative. Some people are just that way.
ILLUSTRATION: Like the ole boy I heard about who never had anything good to say about anything. A young man had a grandfather that was just negative about everything. But one day this grandson came across a champion hunting dog that had some uncanny skills. For one thing this dog could walk on water. Whenever this young fellow would take this dog duck hunting, and he would shoot down a duck or two immediately his dog would dive into the lake to retrieve the downed ducks. But instead of swimming out to the ducks this dog would run across the water, pick up the duck and run back across the water and lay the duck at his master’s feet.
So this young man thought, “Surely my granddad will not be able to say anything bad about this dog. So one day this young man took his grandfather duck hunting with him and his amazing dog. Not long into the hunt this young man shot down several wild ducks and as usual his dog scurried across the top of the water to retrieve the ducks and brought them back and placed them at his feet.
After this happening several more times, the young man couldn’t stand it any longer. He finally turned to his granddad and said, “So granddad, what do you think about my new hunting dog?” At which his grandfather said, “Dog can’t swim can he?”
Some people can’t help but be negative. But isn’t it nice to hang around with friends who build us up, people who are positive, friendly and helpful. We all need people in our lives that encourage and build us up!
29Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
Our language ought to be positive, constructive and encouraging of others.
I grew up hearing, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” But that’s just not true. One of the worse things you can do to another human being is be negative toward them. You can tear down someone in a few minutes with your words what will take a lifetime to build back up!
Notice that I Timothy 4:12 also talks about the example you ought to be as Christian young people.
“Despise your youth” speaks of the contempt one feels in their mind for someone else. It means to look down on someone.
“Youth” means anyone of military age that is up to age forty. (So I guess it’s biblical to call any adult class Young Adults so long as forty or younger! Have you ever noticed that when a man turns forty his hair stops growing on his head and starts growing in other strange places on his body, like his nose and ears!)
SIX AREAS IN LIFE TO BE AN EXAMPLE
1. in word - speech; what you say. This is your talk or language. (Christian youth who curse at school)
2. in conduct - behavior, how you live. This is your walk. Let your walk match your talk.
3. in love - agape love, the greatest Christian virtue.
A. 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love.(NIV)
B. 1 John 4:7-11
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (NIV)
C. John 13:34-35
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV)
Ordinary love is a thing of the heart or feelings. Christian love is a thing of the will.
Christian love never allows itself to hate. Christian love never refuses to forgive. Christian love never holds grudges.
4. in spirit - describes the inner enthusiasm (to be filled with God) and excitement of a child of God; enthusiasm in knowing God; enthusiasm in serving God.
(Take a survey in church this Sunday. Check out how many people look happy to be there. If some of them are happy they need to notify their faces)
5. in faith - faithfulness, loyalty, consistency
Too many young people have roller coaster Christianity. Always up and down, up and down. Too many young people have what I call “Youth Camp Religion.” They get all excited about living for Jesus at camp, but lose it before they get out of the church parking lot when they get back.
God is looking for some Christian youth who will be sold out to Jesus!
6. in purity - Paul’s eyes were open to morality in the life of the believer. If you asked Paul if character counted he say “be an example to the believers....in purity” It does matter what you do in the privacy of your own home. (By the way, do you know that the kind of person you really are is determined by the kind of person you are when nobody’s looking.)
In the city of Ephesus a young man like Timothy would have faced many of the same sensual temptations young people face today. So Paul encourages Timothy to be an example in purity.
In closing share statistics regarding the immorality of today’s youth culture and challenge our Christian youth to rise above this culture to serve Christ by being an encourager to others and an example to believers and unbelievers around them.