Summary: Young believers are to set an example for others to follow
A Living Example
Series: You Pick
July 14, 2013
Series introduction: We are starting a new series of messages based on questions and topics collected for Teens and Young Adults within the church.
Young leaders from the Bible
David – a teenager when he killed Goliath
Josiah – Became king at the age of 8
Jeremiah – teenager when called by God to be a prophet
John – Teenager when called to be a disciple of Jesus
Timothy – Began following Paul on missionary journeys in his teens
Age is not an issue with ministry and many times churches focus on older people. Moses was 80 when God called him at the burning bush. Abraham did not have Isaac until he was advanced in years.
The Hebrew thinking on age is radically different than ours. Our society places adulthood at the age of 18 but in Hebrew customs, adulthood was at the age of 13.
Wesleyan Church allows for individuals to become members of the church at the age of 16. The moment a teenager becomes a member of the church, they have the responsibility and the right to serve in ministry.
12 Don'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. 13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.
Paul warns Timothy about the impulsiveness of ministry. Timothy will need to earn the respect of the people because in Greek culture anyone under the age of thirty was considered young. Remember that Timothy is working with both Hebrews and Gentiles. He will need to hold on to his roots and be flexible enough to incorporate those who do not share a Hebrew lineage. Timothy would deal with the various religious backgrounds of those who came from pagan pasts. He would need to confront heresy as it arose in the church. Timothy was not going to lead the church through his age and experience but rather through the example of his character.
Be an example
A. Commitment to Christ
Paul expected Timothy to set a pattern for others to follow. The pattern was a living witness to reveal the depth of the Christian life. Our living example flows out of our commitment to Christ. We must first follow the example of Christ before we can have an example that is worth following.
B. Closeness to Christ
Timothy would need to be an example of a proper relationship with Christ. One of the most important aspects of discipleship for younger believers is spiritual growth. The need for personal devotions and personal discipleship is critical. The only way for younger believers to grow is to study scripture, spend time in prayer and get involved in service. These three facets are crucial to spiritual development. How can a younger believer grow closer to Christ if the element of service is removed from the equation?
C. Commitment to the church
Many churches are not willing to allow younger believers to serve because of a perceived lack of commitment. Younger believers need to demonstrate that they are able to do the tasks assigned but also that they are willing to complete the tasks. There is no way to build a track record for service, if they are never allowed to serve.
Simple steps of commitment
There are many churches that have no respect for younger believers and refuse to allow them to have any genuine role within the church. These churches are going to die a slow and miserable death. A church that will not embrace their young believers will find themselves without a future. Younger believers must understand that they need to do some things to earn the respect of the people within the church. When Paul writes to Timothy, this is exactly the situation Timothy is dealing with.
Five areas of consistency
Nothing exhibits our character more than the way we speak. What resides within the heart will eventually flow out of our mouth. Our words will reveal the nature of our inner life. The way we speak to others and the way we speak about others will work its way into our living and will either build up our ability to be an example or will destroy our ability to be an example. The way we speak needs to build up the church and be positive in manner. Negative speech is evidence of a negative heart.
One easy way to be an example in the way we speak is to lift others up. Focus on the things that are positive and make these things the center of our conversations. We should approach problems and people with a sense of compassion and kindness. The moment that we lose the control over our words, we will lose control over our ability to be an example for Christ. Our speech should focus on the strengths of the church and of others. Any fool can criticize and most do.