1 Timothy 3 – 1 Timothy 5
When trying to rightly understand the word of God, it is always important to keep the context in mind while you are reading. One verse that stuck out to me while I was reading today was 1 Timothy 4:12.
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.1 Timothy 4:12, ESV
Working with youth for more than a decade, I can honestly say that I have heard this verse used many times in ways that Paul never meant it! It was typically handled by youth group members as to say something along the lines of, “People always look down on us because we are young and they think that we don’t know anything, but according to Paul we should be the ones running this church!”
Is that really what Paul meant? Not hardly. How can we know for sure that is not what Paul meant? Well, let’s look at a couple of other key verses from 1 Timothy:
[An overseer] must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.1 Timothy 3:6, ESV
Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers…1 Timothy 5:1, ESV
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.1 Timothy 5:17, ESV
Now, I’m not saying that younger people should not be leaders in the church (unless they are recent converts), but I am saying that 1 Timothy 4:12 is clearly not making that case.
What is Paul trying to say, then? Well, exactly what it says. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set a good example for believers in the way you talk, in the way you act, in your willingness to give and receive love, in your faith, and in your purity.
Young people would do well to actually live out 1 Timothy 4:12 as it was written.
1 Timothy 6 – 2 Timothy 2
My favorite verse in 1 Timothy is definitely 1 Timothy 6:12.
Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.1 Timothy 6:12, ESV
Believers are not called to be passive weaklings. We are called to fight! We are called to fight the good fight of the faith! Jesus said that when someone strikes you on the cheek, you should stand right back up and offer your other cheek. That is not a weak move. That is a strong move!
We have been called into a faith that is worth fighting for! But we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood. We wrestle against the schemes and the works of Satan. Do not grow weary in the battle. I have already read the end of the story. God wins.